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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

FlyersRights.org
Over Hostile Territory
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
The shooting down of MH17 was a wake up call.
A paramedic walks by a part of fuselage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine.

It called attention to the fact that commercial airliners fly over conflict zones and that codesharing means passengers may not be aware of the airline they're flying on when they book a flight.

Many people are asking: What was an airliner doing flying over a war zone? 

Technically, MH17 was flying where it was supposed to, which indicates a larger failure.

Taking A Gamble

Three hundred planes were scheduled to fly over Ukraine on the day MH17 was shot down, despite warnings to airlines about 'serious risks to safety'. 

On May 3rd, the FAA issued a Notice to Airman (NOTAM) prohibiting flight operations in Ukrainian airspace "over the Crimean Peninsula and the associated Ukrainian territorial sea, as well as international airspace managed by Ukraine over the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov."

Experts questioned Malaysia's choice to fly near the fighting, when some airlines had been circumventing the country for weeks after warnings from authorities. That list included British Airways, Qantas, Korean Air, Asiana and all U.S. carriers. 
Aviation experts said that the reason some airlines continued to fly over Ukraine despite the warnings were because it offered a shorter route that saved fuel. Malaysian officials denied that was their motive. 
Joshua Marks, CEO of aviation-data firm masFlight, calculated that flying over Ukraine instead of around the country saved Malaysia Airlines up to $1,500 per flight in fuel, or 2 percent, and shaved about 10 minutes off the trip.
  
KLM said in a statement it "avoids flying over the concerned territory". FlyersRights asked KLM whether this is an old or new policy. The airline did not return our call for comment. 
We are forced to wonder whether those doomed passengers would still be alive today if they had chosen to fly on KLM and not Malaysia Airlines.

Codeshare Confusion
How many passengers were traveling on KLM tickets? 
KLM's primary codeshare partner on this route is Malaysia. Few travelers bother to check the fine detail of their flight and who is operating it.

What responsibility does a codeshare airline have for its ticketed passengers - some of whom are traveling unknowingly on airplanes serviced and operated by vastly different companies?


Huge Threat to Aviation

What about possible threats to airliners overflying Iraq and Syria? It's already known that ISIS terrorists have captured all kinds of equipment, but what if they can get their hands on anti-aircraft systems?

And what about Pakistan? How high is the risk of anti-aircraft systems getting captured by the Taliban in certain areas?

It's a huge threat to aviation, especially because it would leave so many air routes in danger of being blocked off. If you were to put a no-fly zone across Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Gaza and whatever other trouble spots that may come up, it would severely limit Europe-Asian routes.  

Remarks from FlyersRights president, Paul Hudson:

"Many people don't realize that flying to Southeast Asia, China, etc. from Europe often means flights over Russia or former Soviet states or the Middle East. With conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Egypt, and Afghanistan this is becoming much more dangerous.

Modern missiles possessed by many nations can easily shoot down commercial airliners flying at 30,000+ feet, accidentally or on purpose (e.g. the USS Vincennes shooting down an Iranian Airliner over the Persian Gulf in July 1988, that many think resulted in the retaliation bombing of Pan Am 103 in December killing over 550 total).
Tensions and conflicts are growing rapidly worldwide. Even from the Western US, flying to Asia often involves routes near North Korea and the China Sea where tensions and military confrontations between China, Japan, Vietnam and the US are growing.
The post-Cold War, Pax America era of the 1990s and 2000s is breaking down as the US retreats, Russia reasserts itself in Eastern Europe, South America, the Arctic and elsewhere, China now claims the entire South China Sea as its domain, and the Middle East is in turmoil and war. 
The shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines plane with nearly 300 people on board over war-torn eastern Ukraine is likely to have profound consequences for the world's airlines.
The main point for passengers should be the ability to protect themselves from unwittingly flying over conflict zones. The right to know the airline you are actually flying on and the route the flight is taking requires that the DOT act to require this disclosure. 

Had it been disclosed to the MH17 (KLM codeshare KL4103) passengers that they would be flying over eastern Ukraine where several military planes have been shot down, many might have declined to fly on this flight. 
Such disclosures to passengers would likely cause such flights to be rerouted or canceled."
By Friday, snapshots from flight-tracking services showed dense traffic to the west of Ukraine, light traffic over western Russia, and very few planes over Ukraine.

U.S. airlines abandoned the international flying zone over the Eastern Ukraine when war escalated in Eastern Europe months ago, but unfortunately Malaysia Airlines continued to use this air route. 
Eastern Ukraine is a conflict zone where surface to air missiles have been in use since April. The world did not respond to this situation, thinking that this is a conflict involving only Russia, The European Union and the United States.
Should Malaysia Be Allowed To Operate An Airline? 
Much was written about the Malaysian government following the loss of MH370, described as a case study in government incompetence and insularity. 
There's no margin for mistakes for Malaysia post-MH17, warned a Bloomberg columnist. The Malaysian government cannot afford to make any mistakes in its response to the shooting down of MH17, even though it is not to blame for the tragedy which killed 298 people, said journalist William Pesek. 
He noted that the national carrier was already the target of jokes by international air travelers.
"This company had already become a macabre punch line, something no business can afford in the Internet and social-media age," said Pesek.
Malaysia has come under an unusual global spotlight, with pressure from foreign media and governments exposing widespread poor management.


The Airlines' Special Interest Legislation


Don't you love it when bills come with names that imply they do the opposite of what they actually do? 

Making its way through Congress isH.R. 4156, the "Transparent Airfares Act of 2014" that would only reduceprice transparency.  

FlyersRights, along with other major consumer groups have sent a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives, urging them to reject the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014.

Your Letters

(Letters to FlyersRights.org may be published in edited form without further notice with names and contact info protected, unless writer marks the letter, "Not For Publication".)

In response to last week's newsletter: 

Dear FlyersRights:

Generally speaking, I am OK with vendors separating their costs from taxes as this tends to keep taxes in check. Case in point: most european countries have creeped up their sales tax to 21% by burying it in the retail price.

However there should be transparency in cost, for example if a fare is $100 and unavoidable taxes are $60, they should be displayed on an equivalent footing: no asterisks, as you say, and same type size. Eg Fly to Orlando for $100 plus $60 in taxes. Or better: Fly to Orlando for $160, includes (snack, pillow and) $60 in taxes.

-PL
I appreciate your eagle eye on the way the airlines price tickets.  Next you need to center the cross hairs on the auto rentals at the airports that advertise $34 a day for a car that cost $74 by the time all the "extra fees" and 3 or 4 taxes are applied.  The rental companies quote a bare bones price and then add things like a portion of the registration fee, the airport concession fee, the shuttle cost to the rental lot, etc.  The cities, counties and states don't like to raise taxes on their citizens but they are good at passing them on to the traveling public.

-DP

It never ceases to amaze how lacking airlines and rental car companies are when it comes to disclosure of charges.   

I agree, DP, it does seem like a double standard, going after the airlines,
but the airlines occupy a unique space in American commerce. They can't be sued in state courts because of federal rulings, so the DOT is the only bulwark against any unfair or deceptive business practices.  

While it's true that hotels and car renters are also adept at promoting "teaser" rates that don't immediately disclose the full cost the customer will pay, the anti-transparency act doesn't deal with that issue, which is in the Federal Trade Commission's jurisdiction. Also, airlines don't compete for customers with hotels and car-rental companies. It's more likely that they are marketing partners, promoting each other's services on their websites.

Airline pricing is probably one of the most confusing consumer products, where the price can swing wildly within a week, day, or hour.

While this pricing makes sense to the airlines for yield management, it is extremely consumer unfriendly and very hard for consumers to understand. Almost no other product in the world is priced this way.

You could argue the airlines brought this on themselves; when you nickel and dime consumers to death, you're bound to eventually get attention. We've now reached a point where airlines are trying to sell tickets for $9, but then dumping $100 in "optional" fees on top of that fare. 

Kendall Creighton
FlyersRights
  
Getting on a Plane? Put This Number in Your Phone:
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Thank you.


Kate Hanni, founder 
with Paul Hudson, President

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Friday, July 18, 2014


FlyersRights.org
FlyersRights Calls on Airlines to Lose the Asterisk
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Last week, FlyersRights called on House Members to put the brakes on H.R. 4156 - the deceptively titled "Transparent Airfares Act of 2014".

The bill is backed by the airline industry, with the goal of putting the asterisk back in airfares.

It would undo our Full Fare Advertising Rule passed in 2012 by the Department of Transportation (DOT), that requires airlines to advertise the full cost of a ticket, including taxes and fees levied by airport authorities and federal, state and local governments.

As it's written, the bill would allow airlines to report a base fare, then separately disclose the full cost of the ticket. Such as, Airfares From Only $1!*

The president of the American Society of Travel Agents, Zane Kerby, said the bill "would allow airlines to deceive travelers about the actual cost of a flight."

"The airlines challenged the rule in court and lost, then tried the United States Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case. Congress should stay its hand here," Kerby said. "There is no evidence of consumer harm under the DOT rule, only benefits for the traveling public."

The bill was passed out of Committee in April without any hearings, debate or opportunity for consumer or travel industry stakeholders to inform Congress of their views and the flaws in this bill. This contentious legislation would harm consumers by reversing a DOT rule implemented in 2012 to stop misleading airline advertising.

House Members should reject this Rules Suspension scheme and insist on proper deliberation of this anti-consumer legislation.

Most of the bill's 
cosponsors are members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and many also are among the top recipients of campaign contributions from the airline industry, according to opensecrets.org.

Bill Shuster (R-PA) has received $195,750 from the air transport industry (the most of any member of Congress); ranking Democrat Nick Rahall of West Virginia has received $62,500; and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has reported  $121,721 in airline industry contributions during this election cycle.

Does the phrase "bought and paid for" come to mind? 

FlyersRights president, Paul Hudson, said "Pay-to-Play" appears to be alive and well. It is not illegal for members of Congress to accept campaign contributions from special interests and then sponsor their legislation unless there is a quid pro quo, but members who then seek to shut out public input for controversial anti-consumer legislation have crossed another ethical if not legal line."
Sardine Airlines 
(or, Ben Hur Airlines)
How far will the airline industry go to squeeze in more passengers per plane? 
 
Airbus has filed a patent for a new kind of economy seats which makes passengers sit on something akin to a bicycle saddles.
 
As if coach seats were not already horrible. Would you pay to fly on a bike seat?  
 
The so-called saddle seating would allow the airline to fit far more passengers into flights lasting 'a couple of hours'.
The diagram appears to have forgotten each passenger's assigned galley oars and a drummer providing the beat.
  
When the seats are not in use, the would flip up to create more space in the cabin. 

Each of the bicycle seats is fastened to a vertical bar, and the seats retract to increase space when not in use. 

Airbus calculates that the traveling public will accept this reduced level of comfort since most flights are relatively short.   

And they're going to pass any cost savings on to you .....

Maximizing the discomfort of economy class serves to increase the sales of the overpriced "upgrade" tickets. Thus, the point of these seats is not only to maximize the number of sardines crammed into the tin, but also to increase the number of business and 1st class seats sold. 

This is why you need FlyersRights and the protection of government regulations!

HOT OFF THE PRESS

Customer files lawsuit against Expedia after paying $650 in surprise bag fees
 
A customer is suing Expedia after paying $650 round-trip for his family of four's luggage after the online travel agency claimed the first checked bag would be free with the airfare purchase.

The lawsuit, which is seeking class action status, was filed in King County Superior Court last week. The suit also alleges that Expedia was deceptive by offering a discount for making a purchase from its mobile application, but then ultimately not delivering the discount.

The suit alleges that the customer "was falsely promised by Expedia that he would receive a 5% discount on his airfare purchase, and was falsely promised airfare for which there would be 'no fee' for first checked baggage."

Your Letters

(Letters to FlyersRights.org may be published in edited form without further notice with names and contact info protected, unless writer marks the letter, "Not For Publication".)

Dear FlyersRights:

Here is an interesting news item from the Sunday Times, dated July 13th, regarding the grounding of three Air India Dreamliners in a single week.

One in Sydney on Thursday because of a landing gear snag - it would have been unable to retract its wheels after take-off. Engineers and spare parts were to arrive on Friday, but the delay would be for two to three days.

One in Hong Kong last Monday when the Dreamliner sprang an oil leak. It was still in Hong Kong as of Sunday. 

Last Saturday, in Delhi, another Boeing 787 had trouble with its braking assembly, and the unfortunate passengers spent hours inside the plane. 

Delhi has yet to see the monsoon; it must have been incredibly hot.

I wonder what happened to these passengers? Were they made to wait for hours, as we were on 2nd July at Heathrow?

Were they made to sit in the plane for hours, as we were, while the crew told us the snag would be rectified in a few minutes. 

We were finally off-loaded, but got the same statement. Reached a hotel at midnight, with no food. Our plane arrived in Mumbai 30 hours late. 

My son returned from England on Air India B 787 (AI 130) on 9th July, which was delayed for several hours due to a 'technical snag'. The plane took off with no lights in the passenger section other than the emergency lights, no entertainment, and cold food as the ovens were not working. I wonder just how legal it was to fly passengers under such conditions. He said there was no information given, no explanations, and of course no offer of compensation. I do hope some of those passengers complain.

I now see that Air India has joined Star Alliance. 

I wonder if this will improve matters. Or is it just another way to fool passengers into believing the airlines really care about their passenger?

Unless passengers start complaining and asserting their right to decent treatment, they will get the treatment they have, sadly, come to expect. But should we expect to be treated as if we don't matter? Should we, as my agent suggested, upgrade to business class so we get seats comfortably wide and spaced further apart, although at a huge cost? And will this prevent AI from bluffing that they will take off shortly when they know it will be several hours, if not longer? I don't think so.

This is what we want:
  • Airlines should communicate to passengers the reason for delay, clearly and frequently, giving the true estimated time needed for repairs.
  • If the airline knows repairs will take several hours, passengers should be given the option of changing to another airline. 
  • Passengers should get their baggage back. If you are going on holiday you don't want to wait several days while your bags catch up with you. 
Even if you are going home, you don 't want to make a couple of trips to your airport - which may be distant - to find out if your bags have arrived. You want your baggage with you. Few of us can carry a change of clothes and other necessities in our hand baggage. 
  • If passengers opt to stay with the airline they should get food and accommodation if needed without having to scream for it. 
  • Passengers should be given a lounge with seating, decent facilities for food, access to toilets, and facilities for children and the elderly, who have special needs of their own.  
They should not be left standing around wondering what happens next, and afraid to go to the rest-room in case they miss an announcement. 

Acquiring the Boeing 787 seems to have been a huge mistake. It has been plagued with problems from inception, and all the gimmicks of darkening windows and self-flushing toilets will not change the fact that this aircraft was a bad buy. The Dreamliner has become a nightmare, and passengers would be well advised to avoid booking flights on this aircraft. 

There is a rumour that eight of Air India's fleet of Dreamliners are being used for spares.... obviously I can't verify this. 
 
And if you go to their Facebook page it is full of praises for the new airliner...a lot of them (if not all) seem to be AI employees! 

Perhaps a prerequisite for being employed by AI. I hope not. 

Regards, 
JB
Keeping Up With Kate!

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Thank you.


Kate Hanni, founder 
with Paul Hudson, President

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


FlyersRights.org
Under The Microscope 
Tuesday, July 8, 2014


New security threats, crowded airports, packed planes, costly luggage fees, data-mined passengers... a happiness blanket?

And that was just the news last week. 

Just before the holiday weekend, the Department of Homeland Secuirty declared that uncharged mobile phones, especially iPhones and Samsung's Galaxy, won't be allowed on United States-bound flights from Europe, Africa and the Middle East in response to reports of an increased threat from Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen. 

The intelligence obtained by the US suggests that a bomb could be taken through airport security in a laptop or tablet computer, or concealed in shoes. Therefore passengers heading for America can expect their shoes to be screened, and any electronic devices to be closely inspected.
  
The US believes the threat will come from returning "foreign fighters" who have been with the rebels in Syria. They think the perpetrators will have Western passports. 

More Privacy Invasion

Not only will the TSA scrutinize you more, but now the airlines will too.

An International Air Transport Association (IATA) sponsored program called "New Distribution Capability" was quietly approved by the DOT last month which now paves the way for the wholesale mining of airline passenger data.
And you were worried about the NSA collecting metadata? Now the airlines want to find out who you are while you're pricing airfares. It's all about cross-selling, up-selling, advertising and data mining. 
 
The plan is that airlines and travel agents will have you enter all your personal info before you get the airlines' airfare quote.  

They want to know where you shop, your age, zip code, marital status and will give you a price quote based on your habits. For example, if you are shopping at high-end places, they may determine that you can pay a higher fare, and then only display higher fares. Whereas if you were previously shopping at low-end places, they may only display low end fares.

They say you will have a choice and you won't have to provide the personal info, but then you'll likely get only higher airfare quotes.  

In short, it is about the airlines doing everything possible to limit the ability of their customers to shop for the lowest available fares.

The airlines employed this stealthy, back door approach with checked bag fees. When they first appeared, they were only a modest two dollars per bag. But that quickly escalated once the airlines gained acceptance for the practice and it quickly shot up anywhere from $25 to $100 a bag.

This is a big red flag. Privacy advocates need to jump on this one soon.

Mood Ring For The Body
As if there was any question about the mood of passengers after beeing fleeced by fees, crawling through lines of security and then squashed into tiny seats, British Airways is testing a "happiness blanket" that will convey customers' "meditative state" throughout the flight.
 
The airline began testing the hi-tech blanket which changes color using brainwaves, to ensure it offers customers the "best flight's sleep in the sky".
 
Each blanket has fiber optics woven into the material and measures electrical fluctuations in the brain. These fluctuations are recorded through a headpiece worn by the passenger and are sent via Bluetooth to the fiber optics in the blanket.

When a flier feels anxious or uneasy, the blanket turns red, and when the flier is relaxed and happy, the blanket turns blue.

Or, perhaps the airlines could just offer better customer service to begin with - call us crazy!

Your Letters!

  
Dear FlyersRights 
President, Paul Hudson:

I am a supporter of Flyers Rights, and I am very glad you have taken over from Kate.  I did not want the organization to die when Kate left.  It is so difficult to organize consumers, and I think your newsletters are excellent.  I wish you success.

I wonder why consumers are so thoughtless. Soon whole trips will be nonrefundable, for example,  given the success of  nonrefundable hotel room rates.  Don't consumers know where that is taking us?  I can't understand them.

Here is a story of our last flight yesterday. We went from Chicago to Denver.  It isn't earthshaking, but it is one more stress point for us as we fly.

My husband is a million-mile flyer. We have gold cards. He was upgraded 24 hours before, and I was #1 on the upgrade list, only to be dropped to #2 a few hours before we boarded. The new #1 person did get upgraded. Bad luck for me.  I think it may have something to do with the fact that she might have paid more for the ticket, one more new factor that dilutes our power as flyers for UAL. 

I then asked for and got my seat moved up to where my husband's seat was. I'd be a little closer to the front  I should say I am a nervous flyer.  He did offer to change with me, but I said no.

A family of 6 came onto the plane - husband and wife and 4 little girls. They explained to the attendant as they boarded that they had a problem in that their seats were all over the plane and in emergency rows. 

I am seated in an aisle reading. The middle seat is empty. The window is occupied by a UAL pilot or crew member. We say to each other, "Too bad, but I know that seat is going to get filled." Little did we know.

Next, an attendant comes up to us and asks us if one of us would move to row 23. The mom is standing there smiling with the 2-year-old in her arms. 

The pilot and I look at each other.  I say I don't really want to do that.  He looks reluctant.  I say, "Look, if you don't do it, I will do it." 

The neighboring passengers were looking at us, glaring now at me for having said no. Now the older girl has the window and the mom the middle seat, 
with the baby in her arms. The dad is now seated with the other girls behind me. They want my seat.  A flight attendant asks me to move back to the emergency row.  I say I don't want to sit in the emergency row.  The flight attendant asks if I will sit across my aisle in 12 C if the 12C guy will move to the emergency row.  I say ok. 

It feels to me like the entire plane is now glaring at me. I should say that I am a thin-skinned person, but I try to stand my ground, too. 

It was a horrible flight.  The dad says to his 4 year-old that "some people are more helpful than other people."  I want to say, "Look!  I am scared of flying.  
I want to be as close to the front as I can.  There are things you don't know." 

 I do in fact say this to him later, and he says he wasn't thinking of me when he said some people were helpful than others. Hmm.  OK.

I later try talking to the flight attendant about the way the issue was handled.  She is totally unsympathetic and very defensive.  "I just asked," she says.  "Think of the family and the mom etc. etc," all of which I acknowledge but repeat that there has to be a better way of handling the issue than the way it happened.  I got nowhere. 

When I got home I tried something. I made a reservation under the name of Tom Smith, Susan Smith and 4 little girls whose ages I tried to duplicate. When it came time to seat select, I put the 6 of them all over the plane.  It worked.  Even though UAL knew the ages, it allowed me to seat all 6 people in separate areas.

I then called the premier line and got a totally unsympathetic woman on the phone. "Oh yes, she added, they could have reserved kids in the emergency row, too.  The day of the flight, that would get changed. Yes, it is true we ask for the ages, but that is just for security."   I asked how it would get changed, given that flights are pretty well booked now   She said it would get changed just the way it did.  "You just say no, " she said. 

The way I see it, UAL is more and more leaving everyone in the cabins to fend for themselves in situations set up for unpleasantness, or worse. 
If UAL is going to abdicate responsibility, the least it could do in such situations is
  1.      Make an announcement over the whole system explaining the situation and asking if there were 3 people in a row willing for the sake of this family to move.
  2.        Ask people in the back, not the front, to move so that at least they will have gained something rather than lost something.
There is no reason, other than $$, given that UAL knows the ages, that it cannot create a program that would block such reservations.  Do you think there is another reason?
I hope you have stuck with me through this.  Given the age we are now in, this story must seem trivial. It wasn't to me though.  I can sympathize with the family even if it made the reservation just hoping it would work out.  It is the airlines that I think ought to take responsibility here.  ""Good luck with that," our son will say when I tell him what happened.  He is young enough to have NO expectations. 

Best,
CS

Dear CS, 

Thank you for your letter of support. Kate did a phenomenal job in founding and  building FlyersRights.org into the largest and only true mass membership based airline passenger organization and I am honored to be able to continue and build on her tireless effort. 

But to continue and grow so that passengers are both respected and treated fairly requires frequent flyers especially give financially and/or with volunteer time and expertise. This they sometimes forget to do.

FlyersRights.org is the only airline passenger group with a free hotline, weekly newsletter and a Washington DC office for advocacy.

We suggest frequent fliers give 1% of their air travel budget and 10-20 hours per year in volunteer time. FlyersRights.org receives no government funding or major foundation support and does not spend precious limited resources on fundraising. We do not sell or push travel products. Instead we depend on you the air traveler. 

Family seating is made worse because airlines now manipulate seating charts to hide available seats and end up scattering families and inconveniencing others to maximize fee revenue. This is another form of deception of passengers that needs to be stopped by the DOT as an unfair and deceptive practice. 

Sincerely, 

Paul Hudson
President
FlyersRights.org


Dear FlyersRights:

Sitting on tarmac at Newark for 6:15 flight to paris. United flt 904. First they said it was no AC. Now it is no navigation system. Now no word. 9:30 pm. Are they waiting so we can't rebook ? They said to attendants they were going to test navigation system. But are telling us paperwork. What do we do? Have job in Paris. Must be there.

Dear SR,

Thanks for writing. I'm copying our Hotline Director, Joel Smiler, on this email. For international flights, by hour number 4 you must be allowed to deplane. Keep notes on everything, to use for possible reinbursement, and send a copy to FlyersRights.

Sincerely,
Kendall Creighton
FlyersRights.org
 
Thank you for your response. I really appreciate it your being there. They did allow us to deplane finally but the ridiculous stories they told us were insulting.
Prior to boarding at 6:15 and shortly before we were to take off, they told us there was a problem with the ac and that it was still too hot to board. About an hour later after they kept changing the times we boarded.  Then the fun really began.  They now said nothing about the ac which was freezing and said there was a problem with the navigation system.   Over the evening of being stuck there with no food, we  were given no information or very lengthy ones by the pilot that made no sense.  "The system needed rebooting from Chicago" "it really isn't broken - just shows up that way"  "now it is fixed but we have to do paper work""we have to get in line now" "these technicians are coming onboard to fix it"  etc etc.

A very surly boss at the gate yelled at us and said to those of us who wanted our bags to try and find another airline that if we took our bags we could not reboard which he estimated would be in 20 minutes since the problem was fixed and could not guarantee reimbursement. Then he said we could not have our bags anyway since that would make the plane late for everyone else.
A couple of agents tried to help us and rebooked a few of us on flights for the 6th. We were then told to reboard around 10:30 -11pm and of course you know what it is coming. After 40 minutes they said the plane was fixed but the crew had to leave.  Before deboarding, we had asked the crew and they told us that they were fine with the time but weren't so sure about the pilot.When we saw the pilot as we left the airport, he said he was fine to stay time-wise.

We were told that we could not have our luggage which is now stored at Newark and we are rebooked for tonight the 6th on the same flight.  They said our bags will be transferred to the flight and would probably get there. We had to pay $50 to get home by taxi and today we will have to pay for car service again.

Basically, we were lied to all evening.  I purchased a business class full fare ticket and my husband paid $2137 and used miles for an upgrade to Business Class.  I am a consulting corporate psychologist and I am working in Paris during fashion week.  If I don't get there on time, which now will be Monday and it will be fun trying to function that day, I will lose a lot of money.  My clent company is  unlikely to reimburse my flight if I don't make it.  Furthermore my luggage has everything I need for fashion week which is what I work on for my client.

The worst part of this experience was the lying, the hostile manager and the silly flight attendants who were chatting amongst themselves all evening and did not offer any food.  During the final ten minutes, a woman said do you have any food and they looked shocked and put out a box of crackers!!!

This was after a day of things all going wrong at Newark.  Check-in was also a disaster as was security and even the lounge was a nightmare. I know it was a holiday weekend but everyone who was working - and there was a skeleton  crew  and long lines everywhere - was not able to do their jobs.  Again most wanted to chat amongst themselves.  United had 2 people trying to help people in BC check-in with machines and the line piled up. We finally got a Skycap to check us in.  You get the gist of it - we felt like we were in an alien nation and perhaps we were and still are.
Thank you for all you do.
Best
-SR

Dear FlyersRights:
  
We must pursue ALL remedies on the latest Spirit Airlines tarmac fiasco! Please help the affected passengers in obtaining counsel and suing; file complaints with regulators, and contact Congress for corrective legislation. Too, obtaining or even paying for media coverage and focus, should be pursued. Keep us posted on what you and other advocates are doing about this. WE MUST MAKE AN EXAMPLE OF SPIRIT! 
-HR

Dear FlyersRights:

If a flight has mechanical problems, and the airline has to get another plane, is there any compensation if you arrive at your destination more than two hours late?  Or, is the compensation only for those who are bumped but the flight is not cancelled or rescheduled?
-RS

Dear RS,

That is correct. At this time, there is no compensation for mechanical delays. 
 
Compensation is required by law only when you are "bumped" from a flight that is oversold. Airlines almost always refuse to pay passengers for financial losses resulting from a delayed flight.
 
However, if FlyersRights passes our "Bill of Rights 2.0" in Congress, it does cover delays due to mechanical problems or crew shortages.


Sincerely,
Kendall Creighton
FlyersRights.org


Dear FlyersRights: 

(In response to: Not In It For The Long Haul)

Great story on the 787 early ETOPS approval.

This should shed some light on why Boeing moved, just their headquarters, from the nice state they were in to a place like downtown Chicago.

Its all pay for play, to get your way. 

Being in the right place and giving to the right politicians and the right unions will get you a lot in this corrupt city. 

I live here.
-DC

Dear FlyersRights:

This is the report I sent to Air india on July 3rd 2014:
I think it should be mandatory for travel agents to include a note on passengers' rights along with their ticket. 

I am glad to see that USA travelers will be getting a bill of rights, and hope it will become international before too long. 

REPORT BEGINS: 
 
We boarded Dreamliner Air India at 130 from LHR - MUM on 1st July 2014. The flight was to leave at 1330 hrs.
 
Passengers included one elderly lady in a wheelchair, one pregnant lady, 7 or 8 babies, several children under 14, and a number of elderly passengers.
 
Our plane was delayed due to a technical fault. We were served food around 1430hrs, but deplaned only around 1800hrs. We were taken back through immigration and left to stand in the exit lobby for 3 hours. We were bused to Heston Hotel, but no accommodation was available. We were told to eat, but there was no food. After waiting outside for over an hour we were bused to accommodation in Bentley Hotel, reaching well past midnight. No meal was provided. Next day (July 2nd) we were bused after breakfast to Heston Hotel for lunch at 1200hrs, then to the original departure lounge at LHR. Flight was first scheduled for 1430. then 1600hrs. At 1900hrs we were given meal vouchers. Finally we boarded after 2200hrs. The flight took off at 1130 hrs, 31 hours late.
 
At no time was information  given voluntarily.

Air India agents left it to LHR staff to take the brunt of angry passengers.
No provision was made for passenger comfort, particularly families with small children, and the elderly. Passengers were made to stand for hours in areas where there was little or no seating.
 
No effort was made to provide meals at reasonable intervals. We had to ask for vouchers.
 
Passengers were not informed about the plan of action, resulting in frayed tempers. Our luggage was not handed over to us. Passengers were not informed of their rights, if any.
 
Additional comments:
Aisle seat 11c restricts free passage quite severely. Passengers occupying this seat are frequently trodden on and bumped by boarding/disembarking passengers.
 
Many passengers did not know how to flush the toilets, resulting in filthy conditions. Instructions must be given along with the safety check.
Buttons operating screen, light, etc on the inside of the armrest can be accidentally knocked.
 
Hello Jane,
The EU and UK provides more rights to compensation than those in the US.  You should check www.euclaim.com and file a complaint.  You are due compensation for your delayed flight.
Joel

Joel J Smiler DVM
Hotline Director
www.flyersrights.org

(Followup:)

It was indeed shocking. I am over 70, and am still recovering from the fatigue. There were a number of passengers who were my age or older. They all looked utterly exhausted. 
Some leaflets were handed out the following morning (july 2nd) saying that we could fly by another carrier, but since we didn't have our luggage only two people with urgent meetings took this up. In any case we had no idea when we would be asked to board - in 10 minutes or 10 hours. 

There was no suggestion that we could claim compensation. 

There were few apologies. The Heathrow staff did what they could but I guess most of the decisions were Air India's.

When you think about it, passengers become virtual hostages once they have checked in. Their baggage has vanished, and they are often no longer in contact with their families. The mobile phone has made this easier, but if you are in transit you may not have a signal. I don't think many passengers know that you are entitled to any phone calls. 

Passengers MUST be informed of their rights. They should be printed on the ticket - and not in small print either. 

Frankly, I will never fly Air India again. We have had a long and unhappy association (I was delayed 24 hours last year too). I was attending my mother's funeral. At the height of the holiday season, AI was the only airline with tickets. 

Nor will I willingly fly by Dreamliner... it sounds a thoroughly unreliable plane. It was great to have leg room and a slightly wider seat than some planes i have flown on, I loved the blue windows and the lid-down flush (though they do need to put some graphics demonstrating how this works) - but I found the toilets claustrophobically small. Row 11's c and h seats should never have been there. Their position means that the occupant gets a good bashing as passengers go by. I note that in most planes the seats adjacent to the door are two, not three. 

Yes, please do include my report. I don't think Air india will want to have it publicised, but passengers should be aware that airlines will do as little as possible for you if your flight is delayed, unless you make a huge fuss. 
 
 
Dear FlyersRights:

My 6 year old granddaughter was diagnosed on April 1st with stage 3 rhabdomyosarcoma, cancer. She has been at Saint Jude in Memphis since that time. 

Saint Jude flew her and her mom to Jacksonville FL on Sunday, June 29th where she was to start treatment at the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute on the 30th.They flew out of Memphis and everyone there was great. 

They had a layover in Charlotte NC and that is where the trouble started. Their flight was delayed twice and then eventually canceled. By the time she got through the line at customer service the only flight to Jacksonville was full. She asked if they would see if someone on that flight would let them have their seats so that she could get her daughter to Jacksonville. She was already behind on medication and didn't have any feeds with her. She was told no.

Then the nurse from Jacksonville asked to speak to the manager to explain the situation, as if it were not obvious, and was told that they would not speak to her. So they were put on a flight to Daytona. My son in-law then had to drive to Daytona to pick them up, after he had driven from Memphis to Jacksonville thinking her would pick them up at the airport there. Then to top that off, they lost their luggage, which had everything for 2 months in Florida and medications. They keep getting told that their luggage will be delivered at certain times, and needless to say it hasn't come yet, and now they can't even get anyone to talk to them. 

They were treated very poorly by the US Airways staff during what is already a very trying situation. We don't want to see anyone else go through this. I will attach a picture of my granddaughter and you will see that it is obvious that they weren't on a fun trip to Florida. She needed to get to Jacksonville as soon as possible. 

Thank you, 
VR
Dear VR,

For what it is worth I would write a letter of complaint to USAirways customer relations (found on their website), tell your story on their twitter page, and send a complaint to the US Department of Transportation at www.dot.gov/airconsumer .

Sorry for your troubles with the airline.  You did not need that.

Joel

Joel J Smiler DVM
Hotline Director
www.flyersrights.org

FlyersRights.org depends on your tax-dedcutible contribution. 
 
Thank you.



Kate Hanni, founder with Paul Hudson, President
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