Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Some Things Never Change:  Tarmac nightmares are still a problem
Valentine's Day this year was the sixth anniversary of the JetBlue JFK tarmac stranding, when hundreds of passengers were imprisoned for up to 11 hours on grounded planes at its hub in New York. 
Tarmac strandings have been reduced, but not eliminated, by the DOT Three Hour Rule.
The Biscone v. JetBlue trial and related decisions show that consumers are barred from recovery unless physically injured or killed, and minor fines have not deterred JetBlue from repeated tarmac confinement violations.
Being stuck for hours on a stuffy, stinky plane at the airport -- every passenger's nightmare -- was supposed to be a thing of the past, thanks to the U.S. government's threat of huge fines against the airlines. Well, not quite.  

The enactment of the DOT Three Hour Rule in 2009 was proposed and advocated for by FlyersRights.org and the coalition it formed in 2007.  Prior to the rule, up to 250,000 passengers were being held on the tarmac for over 3 hours for reasons of commercial convenience by airlines.
Tarmac strandings are an ongoing battle. Help us continue the fight with a donation to FlyersRights.
Changes Loom Due to Sequestration 
With a March deadline fast approaching for once-unthinkable automatic federal budget cuts under sequestration, aviation sectors are sizing up possible impacts on the day-to-day operation of air traffic control services and facilities.

The FAA is in the crosshairs for sequestration -- with a possible $1 billion in mandatory cuts scheduled to occur. 

"If the sequester were to occur, we would face some very drastic cuts in services and these investments," said FAA acting administrator Michael Huerta, in an October speech. "These cuts would impact air traffic control services,NextGen implementation, and aircraft certification -- all of which are critical to our ability to move forward with aviation in this century."

The Aerospace Industries Association released a study that includes possible closure of 246 airport control towers, 1,500 fewer air traffic controllers and the loss of 9,000 security screeners and 1,600 customs officers.

Obviously, fewer controllers, screeners and customs people would throw a wrench into an already stressed air travel system.

Spare Change = Big Bucks - TSA Keeps the Change

Frazzled and forgetful passengers left more than a half million dollars in spare change in the plastic bowls and bins at airport security checkpoints last year, according to NBCNews.com.

That's about $45,000 more than the amount left behind in 2011, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). 

What happens to all that money?

All those nickels, dimes, quarters - and a smattering of poker chips and crumpled bills - gets counted, forwarded to the TSA financial office and then spent on general security operations.

Some lawmakers and passengers rights groups are unhappy that TSA gets to keep the change. 

Money left behind by passengers at airport checkpoints is "a windfall TSA does not deserve to keep," said Paul Hudson, executive director of FlyersRights.  

He'd like the funds to go to nonprofit groups that look out for the rights of travelers.  

"Passengers pay a lot of taxes on airline tickets and there is currently no government funding in the United States for organizations that seek to help passengers," he said. 

Spare Change? - We Need Your Help Now! 

Seven years ago, Kate Hanni, her family and 10,000 others were forced to sit on the tarmac in Texas for nine hours over a New Year's holiday weekend and were delayed by several days to their destinations.

In response to what had become the routine warehousing of passengers in unsafe, unsanitary conditions, 50,000 of us joined together and got the Department of Transportation to rule that domestic airlines can't do that anymore.

Despite the airlines' predictions of Armageddon, the rule has worked brilliantly. It has now been six years since implementation, and three-hour plus tarmac delays have dropped from highs of nearly 600 a month to 16 per year!   
Domestic and international airlines have adjusted, and we are grateful for their actions.

But suppose you are subject to a tarmac confinement for over three hours, or other air travel snafu?  What are your individual rights?  Well, according to three New York and Federal courts in 2012, you have no rights to any recovery, unless you are killed or physically injured.  And to even dare sue an airline is unconstitutional, as tarmac confinements or nearly anything else that happens in the course of airline operations is deemed a "service."  The free market will magically handle this! 

Finally, at least in New York City, if you manage to avoid the dismissal of your suit as "preempted" and unconstitutional, you will probably be subject to having your most private medical records and tax returns posted on the internet by airline defendants.

Incredible as it sounds, airline attorneys have persuaded the courts that state and local consumer protection laws, and even some criminal laws, cannot be applied to them.  

They have been ruled exempt from all accountability for negligence, fraud, false imprisonment, and other laws that normally protect consumers and allow relief against every other industry. 

There is, in sum, no practical way the ordinary consumer can obtain relief if he or she suffers at the hands of an airline, unlike for nearly every industry that serves the general public. See Biscone v JetBlue Airways in our January 29 newsletter or online.

To change this miscarriage of justice and logic requires passengers to get Congress and the DOT to reverse these in-your-face anti-passenger decisions. No easy task, and not impossible, but only with your help. 

You, through your membership in FlyersRights.org, had a big part in making the Three-Hour rule a reality. Today, it's easier than ever to keep us working for you.  We now have new tax status with The FlyersRights Education Fund  which allows us to offer a tax write-off for 50% of your donations!

In addition to the Three-Hour Rule, we've achieved increased bumping compensation, rules forcing airlines to clearly advertise their true prices, forced elimination of deceptively scheduled flights that are nearly always late and gotten DOT to prohibit fare increases after you purchase your tickets.  

When you fly, we're watching out for you!

Your membership in FlyersRights had a direct influence on all those rulemakings. But we won't be able to continue to support our hotline, bulk e-mails, PR Newswire costs, website maintenance, social media support, legal advocacy in the courts and DOT rulemaking proceedings, and many other costs associated with running this organization unless we get a rapid influx of cash support from you!
(See our Tax Returns here.)

Kate Hanni and I with several other larger donors have supported the organization whenever there was a shortfall, and it's totaled over $75,000 so far. But Kate could not continue and had to step down last month, after putting in an incredible seven years of full time unpaid dedication. 

I, and other FlyersRights.org volunteers, cannot do what Kate did, but with your help we firmly believe that FlyersRights.org can achieve much more. With your help, we can restore US air travel to the world leading dependable, customer friendly experience it once was, while increasing speed and efficiency, maintaining safety, security, affordability and accountability. 

Please make that donation now, and prove us right, that airline passengers will support the only grassroots, donation based airline passenger organization, which receives no industry or government money, stands up for passengers without conflict in halls of Congress, before the DOT, and in the courts.  

Kate and I can no longer support the shortfall. We need you now!  If you value a toll-free hotline, if you value the information in our newsletters, if you want an end to continued enhancement of airline industry corporate power at the expense of passenger interests, we need your help NOW!

How Do We Move Forward?

Friends, our operating expenses have left us, frankly, less than penniless. We must have more sustaining support or FlyersRights.org will simply not be able to continue.

The many contributions you have made to FlyersRights over the years have been of great help, but we need to ask more. As you'll see on our donations page, we have subscription levels beginning as low as $3 per month. Can you commit to the price of one low priced airline ticket or $199 per year?  

If not, can you commit to the price of a good cup of coffee once a month to sustain the voice of airline passenger rights? 

Is it worth the price of a couple of coffees each month to be sure that our hotline is available the next time you have an air travel problem?

Please, go to the FlyersRights donation page and commit to a sustaining subscription. If you can do more than three dollars a month, please consider it. If you just can't commit to a subscription, then your one-time contribution will ease our financial problem. 

We have achieved so much, and we're still moving forward on even more issues.  

Help us, help you!

     Donate Button

They Merge, We Lose

AA-US Airways Merger A Bad Deal For Customers

Tuesday February 12, 2013

Air travelers will end up losing in a deal that would create the largest airline in the U.S., according to consumer advocates interviewed by the Huffington Post last week.

Frequent flyers should be wary of the developments, according to Paul Hudson, Executive Director of FlyersRights. The deal "is unlikely to be good for consumers." 

"It will likely increase airfares, reduce consumer choice and increase overcrowding on aircraft, and result in job losses at both airlines -- but especially for US Airways," Hudson said, adding that he fears "abandonment or downgrading of some hubs like Phoenix."

Having such a large market share gives firms incentives to offer uncompetitive prices, consumer advocates agreed. "The danger in such concentration is also that airlines, like big banks, will become too big to fail," said Hudson. 


Diana Moss, vice president at the consumer advocacy group American Antitrust Institute, said any deal could lead to higher ticket prices "by limiting the power of low-cost carriers to discipline fares."

Moss said the move is "yet another legacy merger in an increasingly concentrated oligopoly business where you just have a few firms." Medium and small communities in the Midwest may see service cuts due to decreased competition along those routes, she said.
Mark Cooper, director of research at the Consumer Federation of America, was even more pessimistic than his peer consumer advocates. "In the airline industry, the problem is not just the mergers anymore," he said. "The market structure that has emerged doesn't support enough competition to limit consumer harm."

FareCompare.com CEO Rick Seany said, "bottom line is you're going to be flying on newer aircraft with this new merger, and you're going to be paying more for your airfare tickets; your loyalty miles will be worth more in the short term, and less in the long run."
America's skies will be dominated by three full-service carriers plus a fourth, Southwest, that began life as a low-cost airline but has come to resemble its traditional rivals. Between them they will have about four-fifths of the domestic market.

The merger would create the largest U.S. airline by revenue, and it has been encouraged by creditors and employees in both airlines as a positive step. 

This sounds wonderful for investors; less so for passengers. Domestic air fares have started rising, after having fallen by about a third in real terms from 2000-09. 
The industry's increasing concentration will make it easier for price increases to stick. The airlines' improved discipline on capacity means flights sell out more often-bad news for late bookers.
And then there are the issues of comfort and reliability. Skytrax, gives just three stars out of five to America's major airlines, putting them on par with Papua New Guinea's national airline, Air Niugini. 

In the short term a merger may make things worse: as shown by United's recent computer failures and other glitches as it integrates Continental, airline mergers can inflict years of misery on passengers.
Given the volume of travelers' moans, there ought to be a market in providing a better service at a slightly higher price. But Virgin America is seeking to do just that, and is still losing money, five years after its inception. So travellers may find that the golden age of airline profits will be a dark age of pricey tickets and poor service. 

Read more: Squeezing Frequent Fliers Is a Likely Merger Outcome - NYT.
Read more: The last great American airline merger - Economist.
F.A.A. Blamed for 787 Battery Risk
Boeing Certification Process 'Must Be Reconsidered'
The nation's top transportation safety official said last Thursday that the Federal Aviation Administration accepted test results from Boeing in 2007 that failed to properly assess the risks of smoke or fire from the batteries on Boeing's new 787 jets.

The F.A.A. has been reviewing its own certification process and the battery tests it oversaw in 2007. It is also looking at other systems on the 787 to see if they were properly approved. 

Last week, the F.A.A. said it would allow Boeing to conduct test flights with its 787 to collect data on the batteries and the plane's electrical system.  

But unless investigators can determine what caused the first cell to short-circuit, Boeing will be required to make other changes to prevent any of the possible causes and to better contain or vent any overheated materials. And given the safety board's findings about how poorly Boeing gauged the original safety risks, the F.A.A. is likely to take its time in 
assessing the validity of any new tests.
Southwest Airlines Introduces $40 Fee 
You Pay For The Honor Of Early Boarding

It used to be, flying on Southwest felt kind of like a democracy. Everyone was treated equally and boarding was determined by your assigned spot in the line. 

But the airline seems to be following the ancillary fees trend with its new $40 charge that gives passengers a prime spot in the boarding line.
Already customers can pay $10 for Southwest's Early Bird Check-In, which bumps up your position in boarding process, but this new fee is an outright guarantee that you'll be one of the first 15 people in line.

For those interested, you can purchase the $40 spots at the gate up to 45 minutes before boarding if there's space available, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Outrage of the Week!
Allegiant Air passengers upset after being left on McGhee Tyson tarmac for 3 hours.

Passengers on an Allegiant Air flight to Lexington, Ky. want answers after their plane was diverted to Knoxville. On January 31The passengers were kept on the plane on the tarmac for three hours with conflicting answers.  

"They turned around and re-routed us to Knoxville," said Doug Yazell. "We landed, sat on the tarmac for three hours, and about every 25-30 minutes they were waiting for a weather report, fuel, we would be taking off shortly, that sort of thing."  The unhappy passengers say they were left on the plane from 9 p.m. to midnight without any food and were given little water.

The passengers were finally allowed to get off the plane and go in to the airport, but were unable to get their bags or any information on the situation for another hour.

Eventually passengers were put up in a hotel and told to book new flights Friday morning. The passengers were given hotel vouchers, but had to find their own way there.

Allegiant Air manager told 6 News the problem was a weather issue. 

Applause of the Week!

United Air Lines was fined $130,000 Monday by the DOT for violating federal rules last May by not informing passengers delayed at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport that
 they had an opportunity to leave the plane as it sat at the gate with the door open. 

United violated a provision backed by FlyersRights, the airline consumer protection rule, which took effect in August 2011 requiring that passengers on a delayed flight have the opportunity to leave the aircraft, and that the carrier must inform them that they can deplane. 

Announcements that passengers can leave the plane must be made 30 minutes after the scheduled departure time and every 30 minutes afterward.

United Flight 881 was scheduled to fly from O'Hare to Tokyo's Narita International Airport on May 7, 2012. The aircraft was pushed back at 12:38 p.m. but return
ed to a gate at 2:25 for maintenance, at which time the doors were opened. However, United failed to make an announcement notifying passengers of that opportunity to leave the plane as required by DOT's rules. The aircraft doors were closed again at 3:10, but because of another mechanical problem the flight was canceled and passengers deplaned at 5:22 p.m. Three passengers on board the flight filed complaints with the Department's Aviation Consumer Protection Division regarding this delay.

The consent order is available at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2013-0004.
FlyersRights Partnerships
  • Flybags - the must-have TSA-compliant toiletry kit for the efficient traveler. For more info visit Flybags.com.
Final Word  
On behalf of all of us at FlyersRights, thank you for your years of loyalty. 

Your support is critical to ensure we can stay here for the long term and respond to passengers rights. 


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Flying Off into the Sunset
Kate Hanni, Vocal Advocate for Passenger Rights, Steps Down
Unwavering Commitment to Improving Airline Passenger Rights 
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
FlyersRights' Executive Director, Kate Hanni, announced she is stepping down after nearly seven years of unwavering commitment to improving airline passenger rights, due to personal and family reasons.
During her tenure, Ms. Hanni championed consumer priorities, protecting airline passengers by founding FlyersRights.org, a thriving 25,000+-member non-profit consumer advocacy organization that empowered the flying public with a powerful voice.  

Ms. Hanni served as organization's nationally-recognized spokesperson. 
She has made over 3,500 appearances on multiple media outlets to raise awareness, and in the process, became a nationally recognized and significant political force
Under Ms. Hanni's leadership, FlyersRights established emergency and anonymous tip hotlines, gathered thousands of stories of disgruntled passengers and built a comprehensive action plan for the airline passengers' Bill of Rights for Members of Congress and the media.

In perhaps her signature move, Ms. Hanni pushed for heavy fines for airlines that left passengers stranded on planes during long tarmac delays. Since the fines, the delays have almost disappeared. This DOT ruling came after a decade of intermittent calamities and inaction.

We at FlyersRights wish to thank Kate Hanni, who started the organization from scratch, with great personal and financial sacrifice and went well beyond what could be expected. FlyersRights was built out of conviction that airline passengers' rights should count as much as airlines' rights.She devoted a huge chunk of her life to testifying in Congress, speaking to the media, travel and much more. For that, we are eternally grateful to Kate.  

In December 2009, FlyersRights got passed a time limit that airlines couldn't leave passengers on planes sitting on the tarmac for more than three hours without letting them get off. The rule was later expanded to prevent four-hour delays on international flights. The rule threatened fines up to $27,500 per passenger.
The next major rule was announced in April 2011 and required airlines to post their full airfares, including all government taxes, in every advertised price. Other parts of the rule required airlines to reimburse passengers for bag fees if their bags are lost and allow passengers to cancel reservations within 24 hours without penalty.
Airlines fought the rule in court. They argued that forcing the most prominent advertised fare to include taxes violated the First Amendment and that allowing cancellations within 24 hours was arbitrary and capricious.
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the rule last July as within the department's power to prevent unfair or deceptive practices in the industry. 

Passengers are now able to hold a reservation without payment, or cancel a booking without penalty for 24 hours after the reservation is made, if they make the reservation one week or more prior to a flight's departure date. In addition, airlines are required to promptly notify passengers of flight delays of over 30 minutes, as well as flight cancellations and diversions, and they are prohibited from increasing the price of passengers' tickets after purchase. 
Enforcement fines against airlines for civil violations ranging from aircraft maintenance to misleading advertising nearly doubled during her leadership. 
The first tarmac-delay fine, against American Eagle for $900,000, was announced in November 2011. The fine was for 15 flights with lengthy delays in thunderstorms the previous May 29 at Chicago's O'Hare airport.
The threat was potent even before that.  From when the rule went into effect in April 2010 through November 2012, the most recent statistics available, airlines have reported 90 tarmac delays of at least three hours, according to the DOT. That compares to 1,213 lengthy tarmac delays from the start of reporting in October 2008 to April 2010.
Fines grew significantly. From 2009 through 2012, the department issued 203 civil penalties totaling $16.5 million in fines, according to the aviation enforcement office. For comparison, the 105 penalties totaled $8.8 million during the previous four years, according to the DOT.
FlyersRights Announces Transition 

The Board of Directors of FlyersRights has announced the appointment of Paul Hudson, Esq. as its new Executive Director. 

Mr. Hudson has been an Executive Board Member of FlyersRights since 2010 and an Aviation Consumer Action Project (ACAP) Board Member since 1995.
In 2008 Mr. Hudson become a legal and strategic advisor to Kate Hanni, supporting the call for federal protections for airline passengers everywhere.

Together they have testified and lobbied lawmakers and DOT officials, held press conferences and staged a mock airplane stranding in Washington to publicize their cause. 
Mr. Hudson represented Ms. Hanni in federal court during a class-action lawsuit against American Airlines for "false imprisonment" stemming from her 2006 stranding. 

Mr. Hudson was the former president and founder of the Pan Am 103 Victims Family Organization and has been a public interest or government lawyer since 1974. Mr. Hudson is a seasoned professional with a strong commitment to the goals of FlyersRights. Paul Hudson's 16-year old daughter Melina died on Pan Am 103, destroyed by terrorists over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. 
DOT Secretary, Ray LaHood, Resigns
With a track record of improving airline passenger rights, last week Secretary LaHood informed President Obama that after serving for four years at the helm of DOT, he would not be staying on for the second term.

Under Secretary LaHood's leadership, DOT published several rounds of regulations designed to strike a better balance between airline profits and passenger rights; among them, ending excessive tarmac delays, as well as new protections that encompass lost bags and bag fees, full disclosure of additional fees and bumping and expansion of the tarmac delay rule.

LaHood's DOT showed the regulations finally have teeth by levying hefty fines against airlines that break the rules.

Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org, gives LaHood a grade of B-minus.  

"He certainly presided over an improvement in passenger rights. In the last year, though, he seems to have rested on the momentum that was there previously," Hudson said.

FlyersRights presented the DOT with 19 recommendations last summer, he noted, including establishing an airline passenger emergency hotline and providing travelers with compensation for excessive flight delays. 

But the government committee that examined the proposed reforms ignored them, Hudson said.
He hopes that whoever replaces LaHood will take a much more serious look at the recommendations.

Federal Government Aviation Leadership Changes

For the first time in history there will be a near complete change in federal  government policy leadership in aviation.

In the House of Representatives the new leadership includes Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV); Aviation Subcommittee Chair Frank LoBiondo (D-NJ), Ranking Member Rick Larson, (D-WA).  

In the Senate, the new leadership is Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Ranking Member Sen. John Thune (R-SD); Aviation Operations, Safety & Security Subcommittee Chair Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA); Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chair Sen. Mark Prior (D-AR) and Ranking Member Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA). 

The Senate has confirmed Michael Huerta as FAA Administrator and Polly Ellen Trottenberg, as Under Secretary for Transportation  Policy. Finally, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Deborah Hersman is in line to be nominated as the new DOT Secretary according to the Wall Street Journal.

Outrage of the Week!

Last week, a FlyersRights member who wishes to remain anonymous, wrote to us about thesqueeze on United upgrades: 

"United has started flying Coach/Business First like Continental when it was a separate airline.  On my NY-LA-NY flight in December, 2012 it was a 3-cabin aircraft.  Now on NY-LA-NY in February, it is a 2-cabin. This means a REAL pinch on upgrades as there is no more business class. I don't know if they are rolling this out to other transcon flights, but I bet they are."

"They also did away with the personal video screens in December and a flight attendant lied to me when I said I had the video player on the flight out, but they were gone on the flight back (3 day business trip!). She said they did away with them "a long time ago." Three days is a long time ago I guess for United.  This now makes business travel even more uncomfortable."

FlyersRights Partnerships

Flybags - the must-have TSA-compliant toiletry kit for the efficient traveler. For more info visit  Flybags.com.

- Goosecross Cellars, a Napa wine shopbenefiting FlyersRights!  

Have a wonderful glass of wine AND support airline travelers everywhere!

Final Word  
On behalf of all of us at FlyersRights, we'd like to express our gratitude for your years of loyalty. 

Your support has been invaluable. And your help is critical to ensure we can stay here for the long term and respond to passengers rights. 


Transportation Secretary: Dreamliners Won't Fly Again Until They're Deemed "1,000% Safe"
Tuesday, January 29, 2013

FlyersRights believes passengers deserve a reasonable expectation of safety, therefore we will continue to follow the Boeing 787 saga. 

Airline customers know there are other planes without smoking battery problems they can travel in.
Just one week after he said he would be comfortable taking a spin in Boeing's 787 Dreamliners, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has changed his tune. LaHood now says no 787s will take to the skies again until officials are "1,000% sure" they're safe to fly.  

As for when they'll fly again, LaHood isn't giving a timeline, "We just have to be patient here," he said. "What the American people want is to fly on planes that are safe, and that's what we're going to assure them of."
NTSB chairwoman, Deborah A. P. Hersman, said repeatedly at a news conference that a fire should never break out on a plane, as one did on a 787 parked at Logan International Airport in Boston on Jan. 7.
The airlines have few alternatives in the long run and little choice but to wait for Boeing to fix the planes. Due to its carbon composite structure and new electrical features, the 787 promises significant savings for airlines that are desperate for ways to cut their fuel bills.
Some dissonant voices are rising. Officials with Poland's national carrier, LOT, said they will seek monetary compensation from Boeing.  Hours before the 787s were grounded worldwide, LOT flew its first commercial flight from Warsaw to Washington. The plane was not allowed to return after the FAA and European aviation authorities grounded the planes.

For the big question; how was a Japanese company, GS Yuasa, chosen to manufacture the problematic lithium-ion batteries on the 787?  The NYTimes uncovers the quid pro quo arrangement.  Boeing, in return for awarding this major contract to GS Yuasa, which also receives subsidies from Japan's government, agreed that Japanese airlines would buy Boeing aircraft almost exclusively.
Such arrangements are banned by the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade in Civil Aircraft, signed by the United States and Japan, which requires that aircraft purchases be made solely on the basis of "commercial and technological" factors and that procurement contracts should be entered into only on the basis of "competitive price, quality and delivery."

Would you fly the 787?
Dining out... at LaGuardia?  Smoothing the Airport Wait       
Forget greasy french fries, soggy pizza or sandwiches that have been sitting out for hours. 
Delta has added new places to eat and shop at La Guardia, including a bistro with an iPad at every table. 
Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
Now filet mignon, crispy duck confit and crab cakes are taking off at the airport.
With travelers waiting longer due to extensive security checks and flight delays, airports across the country are replacing fast-food joints for sit-down restaurants. It's part of a trend of airlines serving their customers before they board their flights.

Delta has put in two dozen new restaurants, bars, cafes and made iPads available to customers in its concourse restaurants.

LGA passengers can order food, have magazines delivered to their seat, shop as well as browse the Internet from cafes equipped with iPads. Seats by the gates also have iPads, allowing passengers to play games and shop at nearby stores. Renovations at Terminal C and D cost upwards of $50 million. 
Rick Blatstein, CEO of OTG Management which owns and operates the concessions in the LGA terminal, told The New York Times that there is revenue potential in spaces at boarding gates, filled with people who have nothing to do but wait.
Latest Developments in JetBlue vs. Biscone, 11-Hour Tarmac Confinement  

Ms Biscone, who was held on the tarmac for 11 hours by JetBlue on Valentine's Day 2007, has appealed the December 2012 decisions of the New York State Appellate Division, Second Department to the New York Court of Appeals.  As reported here last week, New York based courts dismissed her case and that of 1,300 other stranded passengers, except for physical injury.  And another court dismissed a lawsuit by passengers confined by JetBlue for 7 hours at Hartford International Airport in October 2011, stating that airlines are immune from such lawsuits as tarmac confinements are deemed a "service" . 

Should the 2012 New York court decisions stand and be adopted by other courts, passengers in situations involving long tarmac confinements will no longer be able to sue airlines for damages unless they are physically injured or killed, notwithstanding violations of FAA safety and US DOT consumer protection rules or even state criminal statutes. 

Also, New York plaintiffs in tort cases may be now be required to consent to corporate defendants publicly filing on the internet their private medical, psychological and tax return records as a condition of receiving any possibility of compensation for corporate misconduct.  Full details of these cases are here.
It is time for passengers concerned by this new airline attack, against already weakened paassenger rights, to make their voices heard to their Congressional representativesPresident Obama and the the US DOT.  FlyersRights will be posting an online petition soon.

Airline Wi-Fi Check: Which Have It?
It took ages, but United has finally made a decision on putting Wi-Fi on its fleet. Instead of just the domestic fleet, it's going global. Now, almost every U.S. airline has plans for Wi-Fi with at least one of the various providers out there. Here's a look at how they stack up.  

Installed on entire mainline fleet (except for the cargo/passenger combi 737s that primarily fly in Alaska). Service not available on Hawaii flights.

No plans for Wi-Fi.

American  Will install on entire mainline domestic fleet by next year. To see if your flight will have it, check the AA widget. Service not available on Hawaii flights. No plans for international fleet have been announced. 

DeltaInstalled on entire mainline domestic fleet. Currently installing on all regional jets with more than 50 seats. No plans for international fleet have been announced. 

Frontier  Plans to install only on Embraer 190 aircraft, but not currently in service. 

HawaiianNo plans for Wi-Fi.

JetBlue  Will install on entire fleet beginning next year. 

SouthwestInstalling on most of its fleet. Will be completed by 2013. Pre-merger AirTran fleet has it installed on every airplane.

Spirit  No plans for Wi-Fi. 

United (including Continental)Installed on only the 13 airplanes flying between New York/JFK and both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Will begin installing on rest of the mainline fleet (domestic and international) next year. Full mainline fleet will be completed by 2015. 

US Airways  Installed only on all A321 aircraft. 

Virgin AmericaInstalled on entire fleet.
Great FlyersRights Partnerships!   

Flybags - the must-have TSA-compliant toiletry kit for the efficient traveler. For more info visit Flybags.com.

Have a wonderful glass of wine AND support airline travelers everywhere!

Final Word:  
On behalf of all of us at FlyersRights, we'd like to take the opportunity to express our gratitude for your years of loyalty

Your support has been invaluable!  And your help is critical to ensure we can stay here and respond to passengers rights.