Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Coalition for Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights Commends House Transportation Committee Chair James Oberstar for Demanding Stricter Oversight into Passenger Mistreatment and Lack of Customer Service by Airlines Industry
Fastest Growing Airline Passenger Coalition Calls on Congress to Make Passengers Bill of Rights a Necessary Component of FAA Reauthorization
Napa Valley, CA. (March 26, 2007) – The Coalition for Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights” (PBOR), the fastest growing coalition of airline passengers in the country, issued the following statement from its spokesperson Kate Hanni on reports that House Transportation Committee Chair James Oberstar is demanding greater accountability and stricter oversight of passenger mistreatment and lack of customer service by the airline industry.
“We applaud Chair Committee Oberstar for his continued efforts to improve customer service by the airline industry and protect the well-being and welfare of the flying public. Stricter oversight and greater accountability are just what the airlines need in order to meet the very basic level of customer service, yet they continue to fail at this miserably.
The airlines have had seven years to improve the way in which in which they treat passengers and improve their customer service. It’s seven years later and they have demonstrated their unwillingness and inability to police themselves and make passengers their top priority.
As Congress looks to reauthorize FAA funding this year, they should be using this opportunity to ensure that airlines make passengers’ rights a necessary part of FAA reauthorization.
The airlines are currently trying to push through a proposal for FAA reauthorization that will award them big giveaway and reduce Congressional oversight over our air traffic control system. The last thing that they need is to be rewarded with another million-dollar tax break and less accountability to consumers and Congress.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Monday, March 19, 2007
Coalition Outraged by Weekend Reports of Thousands of Passengers Stranded in Airplanes, – Some for More than Ten Hours at Several Airports
Napa Valley, CA. (March 19, 2007) – The Coalition for “Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights” (PBOR) issued the following statement from its spokesperson, Kate Hanni, on reports that thousands of passengers were stranded aboard airplanes at several airports this weekend. Passengers reported being trapped in airplanes against their will for more than 10 hours, some exceeding 14 to 15 hours in certain airports. Reports also point to inadequate staffing by the airlines for some of the problems that contributed to the massive delays.
“We are outraged by weekend reports that the lives of hundreds of thousands of passengers were turned upside down because of the airlines’ outright failure to provide a very basic level of customer service to the flying public.
Meanwhile, the airlines continue to point fingers -- airports blame the airlines for the failure to have enough deicing fluid -- the airlines blame the airports for no gates available. The finger keeps getting passed around, while passengers out on the tarmac remain in the freezing conditions for 14 hours. The question is: Who’s looking out for the flying public ?
We have had enough excuses; no more ‘mea-culpas’ by airline CEOs on national television. Airlines point the finger at others to cover up their own mistakes, while lobbying Congress for a huge tax break. Legislation is the only way to solve these strandings and the time to do so is now.”
Contact: Gil Meneses – 202-445.1570
“As Congress looks to reauthorize FAA funding this year, they should be using this opportunity to ensure that airlines make passengers’ rights a necessary part of FAA reauthorization.
The airlines are currently trying to push through a proposal for FAA reauthorization that will award them big giveaway and reduce Congressional oversight over our air traffic control system.
Yet the incidents this weekend in which thousands of passengers were stranded once again prove that the airlines are unwilling and unable to police themselves and that the last thing that they need is to be rewarded by another tax break and less accountability to consumers and Congress.
To make matters worse, the proposal that the airlines are trying to push through Congress would slash funds by $600 million, jeopardizing efforts to modernize our air traffic control system so that we can keep passengers flying safely and efficiently.
As Congress moves forward with FAA reauthorization, we need to ensure that our air traffic control system is modernized with full and adequate funding, and that passengers are guaranteed basic rights so we prevent horrific stories like this one from happening once and for all.”
Contact: Gil Meneses – 202-445-1570
POSTED: 8:34 am EDT March 18, 2007WPBF-TV (Palm Beach, FL)
SALT LAKE CITY -- SkyWest Airlines apologized to a passenger who said he wasn't allowed to use the restroom during a one-hour flight and ended up urinating in an air-sickness bag.
James Whipple said he had two "really big beers" at the Boise, Idaho airport. While on a flight to Salt Lake City on March 7, he drank a soft drink. He then wanted to use the cabin restroom. The captain had declared it off-limits during the short flight because a light wasn't working.
Whipple said he had used the cabin restroom before the plane departed but had to go again and finally reached for the air-sickness bag.
No other passengers noticed Whipple using the bag, but a flight attendant asked him about it and told the captain, who called airport police.
"It was like I had no choice," Whipple told The Salt Lake Tribune, which posted the story on its Web site Friday. "I started to urinate on myself. So, thinking the way I thought, I grabbed one of those vomit bags."
"I didn't think I did anything wrong. I could have relieved myself all over my pants. It was almost like that was what she preferred me to do," he said.
Whipple was questioned and took a taxi home to Sandy, a Salt Lake City suburb.
The airline sent him a letter of apology and a flight voucher, SkyWest spokeswoman Sabrena Suite-Mangum said Friday.
She said SkyWest decided to go ahead with the flight and get the light fixed in Salt Lake City, rather than delaying it or canceling it for repairs.
"For such a short flight, we really felt we were trying to inconvenience the least number of passengers possible by operating that flight," Suite-Mangum said.
Whipple was not happy with the airline's apology.
"I think it's very wrong for them to put a commercial airliner in the air if it's not in complete working order, regardless of whether [the problem] is a lavatory, or a tire, or anything. We are paying customers, and we put our lives in their hands to fly," he told the Salt Lake Tribune.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Thursday, March 1, 2007
Coalition Applauds Congressman Mike Thompson for Introducing Bill that Would Give Airline Passengers Legal Rights
Contact: Gil Meneses – 202-445.1570
Coalition for Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights Applauds Congressman Mike Thompson for Introducing Bill that Would Give Airline Passengers Legal Rights
"We Applaud Congressman Thompson for Taking a Leadership Role in Protecting the Well-being of the Flying Public" – Kate Hanni.
Napa Valley, CA. (March 1, 2007) – The Coalition for Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights issued the following statement from its spokesperson, Kate Hanni, on news that Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) today introduced the Airline Passengers Bill of Rights in the House of Representatives. The bill will give airline passengers legal rights by preventing them from being held indefinitely on planes, ensuring passengers' needs are met, and helping airlines coordinate with government agencies.
"We applaud Congressman Thompson for introducing the Airline Passengers Bill of Rights in Congress to give passengers legal rights and ensure their well-being.
For far too long, the airlines have put profits ahead of customer service and the basic comfort of the flying public. It is our hope that this bill will give passengers a legal voice when confronted with the horrific ordeal we endured at the hands of American Airlines in Austin, TX and most recently passengers aboard jetBlue in New York City.
Our coalition continues to gather energy and momentum across the halls of Congress and throughout the country. We thank the tens of thousands of supporters that have joined our coalition, have written to their Members of Congress and continue to provide us the vigor and encouragement to move forward.
We encourage Members of Congress to join the efforts of Congressman Thompson, Congressman Oberstar, Senator Boxer and Senator Snowe to ensure the passage of a comprehensive, enforceable Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights that would modernize and improve airline industry standards for customer service."
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:Thursday, March 01, 2007
WASHINGTON — Today, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) introduced the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, legislation that would require all airlines to provide a minimum level of customer service.
“We must find a way for airlines to conduct business without holding passengers on planes for hours on end,” said Thompson. “Passengers should always be treated fairly and decently when traveling, even when unforeseen complications arise. I believe this bill will help both passengers and the airlines know what to expect when problems occur.”
Thompson’s bill clearly outlines the standards of service airlines must incorporate in their contracts of carriage, which are legally binding agreements between passengers and airlines.
These standards include allowing passengers to deplane after three hours on the tarmac, while providing pilots with flexibility if takeoff is imminent, and providing passengers with adequate food, safe drinking water, clean and sanitary facilities, air ventilation and a reasonable temperature while waiting on an aircraft. Airlines must also keep passengers fully informed about the timing and cause of flight delays and cancellations.
The bill also calls on the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration to review airport policies and infrastructure to help ensure airlines can meet these new standards.
“Whether it’s for business or pleasure, Americans rely on the airlines, and I do not want to create a law that puts them out of business,” said Thompson. “I recognize that there is a lot of work that Congress needs to do to improve airport infrastructure and upgrade the air traffic control system. But we need assurance that passengers will not be unnecessarily put in uncomfortable and unsafe conditions. I think this Passenger Bill of Rights is the best way to account for the needs of the passengers and the airlines.”
Summary of the AIRLINE PASSENGER BILL OF RIGHTS
Gives passengers the right to deplane after any ground delay of three hours or more, with two exceptions.
- Allow two 30-minute exceptions if the pilot reasonably determines that a flight will depart not later than 30 minutes after the delay, or
- If the pilot reasonably determines that permitting a passenger to deplane would jeopardize passenger safety or security.
Requires airlines to provide passengers with adequate food, safe drinking water, sanitary facilities, air ventilation, and a reasonable temperature while waiting on an aircraft.
Requires airlines to frequently update passengers at the airport and aboard aircraft on the cause and timing of delays.
Requires airlines to disclose information on chronically delayed or cancelled flights at the time of ticket purchase.
Requires airlines to make every effort to return checked bags to passengers within 24 hours.
Requires airlines to draft and prominently display a Passenger Bill of Rights.
Requires airlines to make information on the lowest fares readily available to the traveling public.
Calls on the FAA to work with airlines to allow long-delayed flights to offload passengers who choose to disembark – without losing that flight’s position in the departure sequence.
Calls on DOT to:
- Review airline and airport emergency contingency plans to make sure that the plans will effectively address weather emergencies in a coordinated manner.
- Convene a meeting of air carriers, airport representatives and the FAA to discuss procedures to better respond to weather emergencies resulting in lengthy flight delays.
- Study the ability of air carriers to provide essential needs of passengers, including food and water in cases where the flight is diverted to an unscheduled airport due to an emergency or weather situation.
- Requires airlines to include this bill in their contract of carriage.