Apparently, being freed from consumer protection laws is not enough for the airlines.
They also seek to stop foreign competition from
airlines such as Norwegian Air, WOW Airlines and Emirates.
Blocking foreign competition will result in higher prices and fewer choices for consumers.
Higher ticket prices will directly affect
all who fly various US airlines, and so it's important to make sure
this issue stays in the spotlight.
CEOs from American, Delta and United will meet
with President Trump Thursday, and likely will discuss placing
limits on foreign air competition, and air traffic control privatization.
As profits soar to record levels, passengers
are enduring reductions in flights, shrinking seats, and less reliable
air travel, especially from small- and medium-size cities.
The major US carriers want to keep out the big Mid-East airlines: Emirates, Etihad and Qatar.
Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org and
member of the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, compared the
airline industry now to the railroad industry in the 19th century:
"Then, railroads controlled long-distance transportation as well as the
courts and government regulators. A new word was coined to describe
their abusive treatment of the public: being 'railroaded'. Today,
Americans are being 'airlined.'"
Furthermore, the airlines are pushing for
privatization of the Air Traffic Control system. The plan for
privatization leaves little room for government supervision over an
inherently governmental function, would transfer all government air
traffic control to an AMTRAK-like entity controlled by the airlines, and
grant a long list of demands sought by the air controller union,
including the right to strike. Such legislation
was passed by the House in the last Congress but not acted on by the Senate.
Guessing what Trump will do is like a crapshoot
On the one hand, Trump's view of the airline industry may be colored not by what the current state of the airline industry, but what his experience was back in the late 80s and 90s.
Trump Airlines launched in 1989 and offered hourly flights between Boston, New York City and Washington D.C.
Trump purchased Eastern Air Lines
Shuttle, which had been offering hourly flights on the East Coast since
1961 with moderate success. The airline had succeeded because of its
no-frills service, you didn't need a reservation ahead of time, there
were no seat assignments, no check-ins, and no boarding passes. You
could show up and hop on a plane for cheap.
When Trump bought 17 of the company's
Boeing 727s for $365 million in 1988 he added maple-wood veneer, chrome
seat-belt latches and gold-colored bathroom fixtures.
This alienated customers, and with the
high fuel prices of the late 80s, resulted in Trump Airlines never
turning a profit in its 4 years. As Time
explains: The high debt forced Trump to
default on his loans and ownership of the company was turned over to
creditors. The Trump Shuttle ceased to exist in 1992 when it was merged
into a new corporation, Shuttle Inc.
He may assume its the airline industry is pretty much the same as it was back then, which it most certainly is not.
On the other hand, "no more competition" is the opposite of Trump's economic program for some industries, such as pharmaceuticals.
American, Delta and United have a chance to present their version of
"alternative facts" to a new administration that has already admitted
through its principal spokespersons that facts be damned.
These Big 3 airlines will seek
to maintain their high-fare, poor service death grip on US travelers by
suppressing competition from domestic as well as foreign airlines.
addition, they love getting all sorts of goodies from taxpayers, be it
in the form of sales tax exemptions, state and municipal funding (direct
and indirect in the form of payments, guarantees, or landing fee
exemptions to begin service in new cities and below market interest
rates from municipal bonds, respectively), plus the vast array of tools
from the tax code, bankruptcy protection and more offered at the federal
They held out their hand to Congress
and pleaded for substantial taxpayer funded bailouts in the months after
the 9/11 terror attacks. So the notion that the playing field is unfair
because they are facing heavily subsidized foreign competitors are,
again, alternative facts.
Meanwhile, US airline profits have soared
to record levels as four big airlines control 85% of ever shrinking
seats, while passengers face reduction in flights, longer less reliable
air travel especially from small and medium size cities.
President Trump should follow the example of
Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and John Kennedy who stood up to corporate
leaders engaged in abuses, not that of his immediate predecessors, who
enabled the present state of US air travel: ever worsening service with
fares now much higher than in the EU and most other nations.
Flyers Rights Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) charity to which contributions are tax deductible.
Demonstrators crowd the international terminal as they protest against President Donald Trump's travel ban on refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations, at San Francisco International Airport on Jan. 29, 2017.
Around and around it went last weekend, during airport confusion and mayhem as travelers in-transit to the US were stopped in airports world-wide, affecting many US passengers with connections.
This just happened to coincide with Delta's second 'systems outage' in under six months.
"I want to apologize to all of our customers who have been impacted by this frustrating situation," said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. "This type of disruption is not acceptable to the Delta family who prides itself on reliability and customer service. I also want to thank our employees who are working tirelessly to accommodate our customers."
Boy, does that sound familiar.
But it was the widespread protests against President Trump's executive order to suspend immigration from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen that raised the question: Will the US lose tourists who feel the US is not a desirable place to spend holidays at the moment?
There are no flights directly from the affected Muslim countries into the US. And the US big three airlines have no flights to or from the seven countries outlined in the ban. Regardless, Iran and Iraqtook steps to bar Americans.
Now, the concern is a general "knock-on" effect - that international travelers could change or postpone their planned business or vacation plans to the US.
For passengers with dual nationality, former residency or citizenship, US passports, Green Cards and valid visa holders, there are many uncertainties.
Airlines are supposed to be able to answer questions and enforce policies, but many, it seems, don't know what to do.
Tips for international travel for non-US citizens to the US: go to travel.state.gov which has up to date information on visas or other requirements.
US passengers can no longer assume that their US passport will allow travel to nearly all countries without a visa, it is always best to check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are planning to visit. After 9/11 some countries in retaliation for new restrictions imposed on their citizens to visit the US, added fees and visa requirements for US
Due to the executive order by President Trump barring citizens from several countries from entering the USA for 90 days some legal questions have occurred.
One of them is: if it (legally binding) turns out that the executive order is an unlawful/illegal act, are there any claims for compensation possible? If yes: what kind of compensation would be possible (e.g. for the flight costs, for immaterial damage)? And against who will you file a lawsuit?
I hope that also your new administration will have a focus on delay compensation issues.
Team mobility & travel
Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband e.V.
Federation of German Consumer Organisations
Markgrafenstraße 66, 10969 Berlin
The Montreal Convention which covers claims for delay against passengers does not provide for compensation from governments.
The US government and other governments have sovereign immunity from civil suits unless there is a law which waives it. National security or immigration or visa regulations even if unfairly applied would not likely provide for a waiver.
That said if an airline were to provide misinformation to a passenger causing delay it might be liable for delay compensation IMO. Also if a dual citizen or legal US resident was unlawfully or unconstitutionally detained they might have rights under US civil rights laws. Travel insurance might in some cases provide for delay compensation.
FlyersRights.org is hoping to organize and host an international conference on airline passenger rights in June or July in Washington DC. The objective would be to train NGO representatives, government workers and attorneys who advise or represent travelers. We are looking for expressions of interest, cosponsors, and speakers.
The airlines should charge to put "carry ons" in overhead bins and not charge extra to "check" suitcases. It is a nightmare getting on planes now as everyone is fighting for overhead bin space, plus it slows down boarding. On top of that, I hate getting to my seat and finding that there is no bin space anywhere near my seat because someone has taken my real estate with all their stuff. Many times people are carrying on more than one bag (no one stops them) and cramming up the bins.
Airlines should charge one fee and allow a suitcase to be "booked" like it used to be.
D. L. Unger
I respectfully disagree with one statement in Mr. Hudson's message. Denver International Airport, a completely new airport at the time it was built - not an overhaul or expansion, was opened Feb 28th, 1995. As of 2015, Denver is the 6th busiest airport in the US and 18th busiest in the world. I would ask that he consider amending his statement.
DIA was started in 1980 and took 15 years to
Build. The existing airport Stapleton was closed and plowed under
With a housing project constructed on the site,
So there could be no competition with the
New far away from town airport.
You should post a correction: President Trump is a builder, but only if it enriches himself. That vast majority of projects that bear his name got there by licensing, not building.
I have no illusions that this president will do anything for the public good.
The FlyersRights® Insider
This week's travel-related information tips and suggestions for our readers and members.
"Customers have told us that they want more choice - and Basic Economy delivers just that," Julia Haywood, Executive VP at United said. "By offering low fares while also offering the experience of traveling on our outstanding network, with a variety of onboard amenities and great customer service, we are giving our customers an additional travel option from what United offers today."
"We're providing Delta customers with a thoughtful, well-defined spectrum of options as they make decisions about travel," said Glen Hauenstein, Delta's executive vice president and chief revenue officer.Delta Air Lines is redefining the products it offers customers to further distinguish the choices available to them. - Delta press release
You see, American, United and Delta say you should be thanking them for all the freedom they're offering you with so many new choices!
Gee, thanks guys.
Trend That's Sweeping The Industry
Last week the third Domino fell - American announced that it would join its 'competitors', United and Delta, and start selling Basic Economy fares next month.
The terms are basically the same - that is, last to board and not being allowed to use the overhead bins.
The NYTimes wrote this week that it's business travelers who are really suffering with this new airfare, as companies usually require their staff to use the lowest airfare available for travel. Taking Economy Class To A New Low
What is Basic Economy? It's a bare-bones ticket that allows no choice in seat assignment, means last to board, no stowing a carry-on bag in the overhead bin and usually no frequent-flier miles.
All three majors allow one small 'personal item' that must go underneath the seat. American and United prohibit use of the overhead bin. However, Delta's current policy allows for one personal item and one complimentary carry-on bag.
United and American's Basic Economy fares will begin next month, but Delta's is already up and running. It was the first legacy carrier in the US to adopt a Basic Economy fare, in 2012.
You may be asking, how can they increase income by adding a cheaper ticket tier?
The airlines boast that they expect to add billions to their annual operating income with Basic Economy fares, because customers often give in, or give up, and just fork over more money to check luggage and to avoid 'misery class'.
Why do we have this sneaking suspicion that the lowest priced ticket isn't actually going to go down? Why do we suspect the cost of the cheapest ticket will remain the same and the cost of all of the others will go up?
Right, this is no discount. it means everyone's normal price is about to go up. So, let's call it what it is; another money grab.
The Labor Day Mattress Sale Approach
What's next? "Would you like to upgrade to WingSeat Premium* Class?"
(*Seat belts free with Premium package. Goggles and bird shield available for additional fee.)
One reader compared it to:
Customer: "$1 for a slice of cheese, that's insane!"
Customer: "Free cheese!"
But how do they police it? Do they stand guard next to the overhead bin and demand to see your ticket? What's to stop someone from storing their carry-on in the overhead bin just to stick it to United?
Just kidding. Here is an exclusive look at how United plans to handle the situation -that other airlines will likely copy:
(if you cannot see the below graphic, please click HERE.
A Message from FlyersRights' president:
In his inauguration speech Friday, President Trump said: "We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation."
The US infrastructure has aged, and not kept up with new technology and much of the developed and developing nations, especially in Asian countries like Japan and China.
No new major airports have been built since 1980. High speed rail technology was pioneered in the US but perfected and built in Europe, Japan and China, not here.
AMTRAK the federal corporation that operates the only intercity rail service has never been able to implement high speed Service and is so unreliable that it takes longer to travel from NYC to Chicago than it did in the 1890s. Rail service is unavailable from Washington to Miami, and between many other major cities and always slower than travel by road.
A quarter to a third of flights are late and about 75% of congestion delays originate from NYC and Chicago. That can only be relieved in the long term by adding two new major airports at least 30 miles from existing airports near these cities. Expansion of existing airports have reached their limits and do nothing to expand air space around existing airports.
However, the City of Chicago and the NYNJ Port Authority that control the existing high congestion airports have blocked new airport construction to maintain their monopoly revenues, and political patronage.
Airports around major cities need high speed rail connecting them with each other and the city centers but this does not exist in the US. Existing ground transportation is set up to maximize airport revenues not public convenience or economic efficiency. This means ground transportation time and expense is enormous and often takes longer or even costs more than air fares.
President Trump is a builder by profession, so he should be able to make air travel better and break up or reform the monopolistic, bureaucratic structures and interests that block any true modernization of US air travel.
- Paul Hudson
Flyers Rights Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) charity to which contributions are tax deductible.
We are commited to solutions for promoting airline passenger policies that forward first and foremost the safety of all passengers while not imposing unrealistic economic burdens that adversely affect airline profitability or create exhorbitant ticket price increases.
All American air carriers shall abide by the following standards to ensure the safety, security and comfort of their passengers:
Establish procedures to respond to all passenger complaints within 24 hours and with appropriate resolution within 2 weeks.
Notify passengers within ten minutes of a delay of known diversions, delays and cancellations via airport overhead announcement, on aircraft announcement, and posting on airport television monitors.
Establish procedures for returning passengers to terminal gate when delays occur so that no plane sits on the tarmac for longer than three hours without connecting to a gate.
Provide for the essential needs of passengers during air- or ground-based delays of longer than 3 hours, including food, water, sanitary facilities, and access to medical attention.
Provide for the needs of disabled, elderly and special needs passengers by establishing procedures for assisting with the moving and retrieving of baggage, and the moving of passengers from one area of airport to another at all times by airline personnel.
Publish and update monthly on the company’s public web site a list of chronically delayed flights, meaning those flight delayed thirty minutes or more, at least forty percent of the time, during a single month.
Compensate “bumped” passengers or passengers delayed due to flight cancellations or postponements of over 12 hours by refund of 150% of ticket price.
The formal implementation of a Passenger Review Committee, made up of non-airline executives and employees but rather passengers and consumers – that would have the formal ability to review and investigate complaints.
Make lowest fare information, schedules and itineraries, cancellation policies and frequent flyer program requirements available in an easily accessed location and updated in real-time.
Ensure that baggage is handled without delay or injury; if baggage is lost or misplaced, the airline shall notify customer of baggage status within 12 hours and provide compensation equal to current market value of baggage and its contents.
Require that these rights apply equally to all airline code-share partners including international partners.