Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Southwest built its reputation by being an airline that offered affordable tickets, great service and a rewards program that set them apart from its competition.
But it was not content with its old award-winning version of Rapid Rewards, because the program was not a revenue generator and did not appeal to the elite-level business travelers of other airlines.

Southwest's formerly easy-to-understand, easy-to-use web site, and outstanding frequent flyer program will come to a close on March 31 when it devalues and makes more complicated its Rapid Reward points. 
Southwest proclaims how Rapid Rewards is being "improved." A quick review of the details makes it abundantly obvious that this is anything but the truth. 
An airline which once boldly proclaimed: "Southwest gives America the freedom to fly," now no longer rewards its once loyal customers for flying (the essence of a frequent flyer program).  
Now customers will have to spend substantially more to achieve rewards similar to those in the old plan. The most expensive fare offering the most benefit, Business Select, now more than ever is designed for just that, the "Business Select." 
While Southwest may increase its income, they have hurt their reputation for being different, for keeping things simple and for keeping things fun and honest.
Now, many of their loyal fans say they are just like the other guys in their disregard for loyal customers.
Southwest, which once held such egalitarian principles: "every seat is a first-class seat," now rewards you only for increased spending, based on a tiered system (Business Select, Anytime, and Wanna Get Away fares. A-List and A-List Select tiers).  
"We're making modifications in our Rapid Rewards loyalty program to adapt to changes in market conditions while allowing us to maintain the most flexible and most rewarding frequent flyer program among all major airlines." A spokesman for Southwest told Consumerist.

To cite a (author unknown) Facebook posting: "Southwest had one of the most LOYAL customer base out of any airlines. Their passengers regularly raved about the Southwest experience. The company has remained profitable while most of the industry has struggled. Still Southwest felt the need to recruit the coveted BUSINESS TRAVELER who tends to (or is willing to) spend more on a ticket.   

Ripping off business class customers seems to be the current strategy. They already treat economy class poorly simply because they can. Now that they have enough business class customers, they figure they can also afford to do the same with them. Eventually, it will move up to first class.  

Skyway Robbery
Several airlines are planning to increase the number of frequent-flyer miles needed for a ticket in 2014 as well as reducing perks.
Delta announced two rounds of Skymiles increases for 2014.  
Starting Feb. 1 United is hiking the number of miles needed for business and first-class seats on many overseas routes, as well as economy seats to Hawaii.  
So far, the newly merged American Airlines has merely devalued its AmEx Platinum and Centurion card perks. Those credit cards will no longer provide free entry to US Airways and American's airport lounges, effective March 22.
It's still a honeymoon for American Airline's frequent flyers. They'll wake up and smell the coffee in about a year when the newly combined airline devalues their award chart so badly it will resemble the 1929 stock market crash.

Once upon a time, a frequent flyer card was treasured. There was a day when you could automatically get a free seat next to you if you'd collected enough miles. Now frequent flyer mile values have dropped so much, you question whether these 'loyality' programs are worth it.

The consolidation of airlines over the last 10 years means that there may not be the need for frequent flyer programs, as there is such little competition for business among airlines. Also, it points to questionable decision-making at the Justice Department by approving so many airline mergers in recent years. Oligopolies, just like monopolies, are bad for consumers. Prepare to pay more.
The "Rewards" program, like the flying "experience" is getting worse. The "unbundling" of services - differential pricing for window, aisle and center seats and "preferred" seats like emergency exit rows, checked bag fees, boarding order preference, ovehead bin priviledge, etc. are fleecing the traveling public.
There has been little change to the basic cost of getting you from Point A to B.  All of these extra charges are there solely to generate additional revenue for the airlines - not to offer enhanced services.  For the airlines to suggest that this is a change desired by its customers is, at best, disingenuous, and at worst, an outright lie.
Fares have risen nearly 12 percent since 2009, an AP analysis shows.
When people say there is still plenty of competition: American, United, Delta, Southwest, Frontier, Jet Blue, Allegiant, Spirit, Alaska, let's look at all the cities with commercial air service and see what percentage are served by more than one or two airlines; what percentage have mainline flights; and what percentage are on a meaningful network. 
It's nice that Allegiant serves Portsmouth, NH (PSM) for example, but the only destinations are Orlando and Fort Myers/Punta Gorda. Allegiant doesn't sell connections, so PSM doesn't has meaningful, useful air service.  

(Business Class YUL-CDG in February.)
Is there any other industry where the main competitors' pricing looks like that and no-one bats an eye?

FlyersRights says an Airline Passenger Rights Act needs to be passed -
enforcing all-inclusive ticket pricing, basic travel requirements (i.e. seat standards, humane seat widths and row spacing, fair treatment when flights are cancelled and coverage of frequent flyer progams.)
The New Terrorism?
"Laughter Yoga" Coach Attempts To Make Travelers Giggle About Delays 
Last week, during a four-hour flight delay at JFK airport, a Laughter Yoga "Stylist and Coach" led a group of stressed passengers through a 20-minute "laughter meditation" session. 
A bystander took some video of the "surreal" event. One witness called the session "completely the last thing we ever want to see when we're stuck in a hermetically-sealed nightmare-place with strangers" and plead, "Dear god make the cackling stop."
NYC's Laughter Yoga  Coach,Francine Shore doing Laughter Yoga at LAN Airlines at JFK
NYC's Laughter Yoga Coach, Francine Shore, doing Laughter Yoga at LAN Airlines at JFK

Your Letters!

Dear FlyersRights:

I  have solved my unhappy experiences with flying within the US. My wife & I drove on our last 3 trips which were from the Midwest to DC, to New York & to Baltimore. While I loved to fly in the good old days, I now drive within the US.   Our next driving trip will be from Ohio to Florida, where we will take a foreign carrier to South America, and return the same way. 

Although partial, our boycott of America carriers is the only response we have for being mistreated by the airlines and the government's abusive TSA. 
Hope to hear that there are more people that drive when possible. And yes, we can do this as we are now retired. I am sorry for all the suffering public that has to put up with the current state of flying. 
Dear FlyersRights:
Complaint Re: United Air
I booked a round trip through Orbitz, Burbank to San Francisco 1/18/14-1/20/14.  When printing my boarding pass United printed a message flight oversold and did not print my seat but stated "See Agent". When I checked in the agent said my name would be called at the time of boarding.  As the groups were called I approached the gate agent and said I booked a seat and wanted to board. The agent had my printed boarding pass on her desk and I boarded. On the return trip I had to buy a $32.00 economy seat. The plane was not full.
Dear FlyersRights:
We always get to the airport at least two (usually three) hours early and are rarely checking bags.  Even so, we have come perilously close to missing flights on several occasions (doors just being closed) because there was only one TSA agent checking tickets, a line that moved even slower because he was also handling a feeder line of First Class and priority fliers as well.  We're not talking small airports.  This happened to us at both Sea-Tac and Logan.  Is there anything you can do if you're about to miss your flight?  Or do you just have to miss it?  A much worse example of this follows:

Our next door neighbors with their three young children (5, 3, and infant) were flying from the Hartford to their home in San Diego on Monday, January 6.  They got to the airport hours early but by the time they stood in line to check baggage and to get a BVD (Boarding Verification Document) for the infant which has to be done at the ticket counter and got to the gate, Southwest said their tickets had been given away, although the door was still open.  
Southwest insisted that their computers were not sophisticated to know whether the family was already in the terminal although my neighbor protested how could they not?  They had checked bags and gotten the BVD for the baby which had to be done in person.  Further, they were told that the first available seats would not be until Thursday, Jan. 9 - three days hence.  On top of that, they were told they couldn't get their luggage back; it was already loaded.  
This genuinely surprised me as usually airlines will insist on removing luggage from a plane if the passenger doesn't fly.  (Is this a great way to blow up a plane - check your bag and arrive a hair too late?)  The family had to buy a three day supply of clothes to tide them over at considerable expense. 
Meanwhile, fearful that their luggage would be lost or stolen in San Diego if it sat there that long, they called a friend and gave him the ticket numbers and asked him to retrieve the bags.  When the friend got to the airport, a baggage office employee pointed him to a large stack of bags just sitting in the terminal where anyone could have walked off with them and told him to go find them.  The friend could have taken any bags he wanted.  This whole story makes me never want to fly again.
Dear FlyersRights:
(In response to last week's newsletter on TSA's proposed "Service With A Smile" campaign)
I vote for a 100 IQ Pleaser (TSA greeter) at each position to verbalize requests to travelers - the 60 IQs can tell the 100 IQ what they want...
Also, a recliner disable button on the back of each seat... 
Dear FlyersRights:
Perhaps you have already seen this in the Wall Street Journal.

No comment needed except what I noted to my call to Congressman Jim
Moran, "BDOs (Behavior Detection Officers) get five days of classroom training and two days of on-the-job training. They must pass a written test every year and be observed by a manager annually to stay certified. There is also recurrent training, TSA says."

Pitch In and Help FlyersRights!
Volunteers are needed in all areas, and intern positions with stipends are available for students and recent graduates.  
Email Paul Hudson, (globetrotter1947[at]hotmail[dot]com.
Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights
Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights
FlyersRights depends on tax-deductible contributions from those who share our commitment to airline passenger rights
You will be sent the latest FlyersRights publications and newsletters. You aren't merely supporting our mission, you become a part of FlyersRights. 
Thank you. 

4411 Bee Ridge Road 

Sarasota, FL 34233

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Foreign airlines like Emirates and Qantas should be able to compete with American companies on domestic routes. Photo by Daniel Muñoz/Reuters
The era of cheap airfares is fading away, thanks to consolidation and reduced competition.

Northwest has merged with Delta. Southwest acquired Airtran. Continental was absorbed by United. And most recently US Airways and American have merged, leaving the country with just four major airlines 
(American, Delta, United and Southwest) controlling 80 to 90 percent of domestic flights and passengers with very few options.

Regulators caved in to this wave of mergers, despite the Justice Department's half-hearted legal attempt to block the American-US Airways union.  

But there's something even simpler the government can do to encourage a new wave of competition: let foreign airlines fly domestic routes in the United States.

Most American business travelers prefer to use foreign airlines already, cites a recent USA TODAY poll.  
Airline Protectionism Hurts Travelers  

International airlines do operate in this country, but they're forbidden from flying point-to-point destinations domestically. 

Laws banning foreign carriers from offering domestic flights are a throwback to another era, when the American airline industry was tightly regulated by the federal government. But today, with only a few carriers remaining and security concerns of the Cold War a distant memory, it's harder to justify the regulation.

If foreign airlines were allowed to offer flights in the United States, competing with our monopolies, it would greatly benefit travelers, reports
By increasing choice, this would put pressure on airlines to lower prices and improve quality.
Paul Hudson, FlyersRights' president told USA Today, "Foreign airline competition and capital investment in U.S. airlines could quickly improve passenger service, lower fares, result in new start-up airlines, and relieve overcrowding."  

Union Barriers

Some hurdles include opposition from pilots and flight attendant unions, which point out that some international carriers receive subsidies from their governments or face lighter tax and regulatory burdens, which would put U.S. carriers at a disadvantage.

Still, the benefits of opening up the domestic market to foreign competition outweigh the drawbacks.
Being able to buy a transcontinental ticket on Cathay Pacific or Qatar Airways would force U.S. airlines to offer lower prices and upgrade their service, ending a race to the bottom that's defined domestic air travel in the last decade. U.S. airlines would no longer take us for granted, reports USA Today.

Complaint Level Will Decline

Most people don't have a private jet at their disposal, and don't have the option of flying first class. 

The current system is broken. And allowing gigantic airlines to form in the style of Wal-Mart and McDonald's while keeping out foreign competition is not the way to fix it. 

If we can't compete with foreign airlines, then we need to figure out why.  
FlyersRights member, Dan T., sent in a Bloomberg article, which clarifies the point. 
Frustration can begin with innocuous activities such as other travelers' reclining their seats into our laps, requests to remain seated during taxiing and unexpected turbulence and even failure to secure an upgrade.
Airport crowds, the stress of sitting in a confined space for hours on end and a fear of flying can also trigger incidents.
He describes his own recent experience on a 12-hour marathon flight from JFK to Phoenix, via Charlotte, on US Airways.

"Plane was a little late landing but no indication of a change in departure time. Meanwhile, at 30 minutes before scheduled time people line up to get on.  

Gate agent gets on PA system saying that we need everyone to back away from the gate so the passengers can deplane.

I go up to him and ask him to announce a change in departure time since passengers were naturally expecting what was posted without any other notification. He says to me 'I told them what they need to know to get this plane out on time.' 

Can't tell you how many times I have seen something similar. They do not announce changes, and without that people start to feel left in the dark and become antsy and uncomfortable. So after he tells me the above, I notice a voicemail message from the airline. I play it and it is announcing the changed departure time. Of course I put the speaker on so others could hear it.

The information is there, but there is no real effort to understand what their customers need. 

Sure it may be because they are overworked and understaffed, I get it. But these are symptoms of a larger problem of bad service."
Warning: More Seat "Enhancements"

The Associated Press reports that the new seats will allow Delta to squeeze in 10% more passengers into the planes, yet somehow, "increase passenger comfort" with all the in-seat entertainment. 

But in the era of iPads and smartphones, is in-seat video a worthwhile investment?

Slimline seats are the wave of the future, and nearly every airline is installing them.  But don't believe that this is better for you as a passenger. 

Read More:
Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights

Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights
FlyersRights depends on tax-deductible contributions from those who share our commitment to airline passenger rights
You will be sent the latest FlyersRights publications and newsletters. You aren't merely supporting our mission, you become a part of FlyersRights. 
Thank you. 

4411 Bee Ridge Road 

Sarasota, FL 34233
We welcome your thoughts and opinions.

Email your letters to:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Tuesday, January 7, 2014
New Year resolution: Forget 2013. 

Last year saw seats shrinking in the coach cabin, airlines charging passengers for everything that used to be free, and even congressional leaders found a way to increase passenger fees.

Here are five resolutions to make this year the 'Year of the Passenger'.

Resolution for the Airline Industry:

We, the airline industry, resolve to remember that ours is a service business. 
We will strive to make it a better world for air travelers. We will comply with the rules and requirements on overbooking, baggage and tarmac delays.
We understand air travel is now barbaric, so to create some goodwill we resolve to be on time and be nice. We will also stop making the seats smaller and closer together.
We resolve to not charge outrageous prices for the opportunity to have one's luggage pillaged, lost or stolen.
In cases of adverse weather events, we will have updated backup plans and crew reserves available to avoid the ripple effect of cancelled flights and widespread passenger misery.

We resolve to abide by some basic principles, like enlightening the passenger to the full cost of the entire trip before purchasing a ticket.

Resolution for Airports: 

We, the airports, recognize that the airport experience bears a strong resemblance to an emergency shelter. 
This is not only due to the lack of cleanliness (compared to most airports in other countries whose airports are far cleaner and customer-friendly!), but also the poor baggage handling facilities, lengthy and cumbersome check-in process and a gauntlet of intimidating security measures.  Most importantly, whenever flights are cancelled or diverted, it leaves passengers stuck in these miserable conditions, for which they are completely unprepared.  We agree to develop a long-term strategy to improve these conditions and a set of proactive contingency plans to handle virtually any problems that may arise.  We resolve to make passenger safety, comfort and convenience our number one priority.
We also resolve to provide free, secure wi-fi to our customers to keep them connected to their families, friends and business associates.

Resolution for the Department of Transportation: 

We, the DOT, resolve to strongly enforce existing passenger rights laws for the airlines and airport facilities and to address violations in a timely and aggressive manner.

Resolution for the Transportation Security Administration:

We, the TSA, resolve to get you to your plane in a civilized manner without arbitrary confiscations and cavity searches.  And you should not have to buy your way to civility with elite registrations and V.I.P. statuses. 
Resolution from the Flightdeck:

We, the captain and first officer, resolve to keep passengers truthfully informed. When delays are caused by a mechanical problem, passengers will not be told it is weather to avoid issuing monitary compensation or vouchers, etc.  
We realize that when the crew represents a cancellation or delay as being weather, when it is mechanical, we are defrauding passengers out of compensation to which they are legally entitled.  
When Airlines Are Quick to Cancel due to Weather
(Photo : Flickr)
Last Thursday through Sunday, airlines canceled more than 13,600 flights. An additional 4,400 had been canceled by midafternoon on Monday. 

Yesterday The New York Times quoted Paul Hudson, FlyersRights' president on the situation:

Paul Hudson, president of, a consumer group, says he thinks the industry profits by mishandling weather-related cancellations and rebookings. He suggests that the Transportation Department address the issue, just as it did in 2010 after it began imposing stiff fines against airlines for excessive tarmac delays that kept passengers on idled planes for hours.

During bad weather, Mr. Hudson said, "Many airlines prefer to dump costs on passengers and have the entire country suffer from an air transportation slowdown, rather than having the reserves to do proper contingency planning."

Pilot and airline dispatcher, W. Wilson told FlyersRights, "Some flights were canceled in places where there was no bad weather." That's because airlines have reduced schedules and there is little slack to handle disruptions. As airlines cancel flights and shift equipment and crews, sometimes well in advance of anticipated bad weather, the effects radiate out throughout the entire domestic system - including in places where the weather is good - and into the vast international networks."

"Traveler misery is often compounded at airports, as stranded passengers, some unable to rebook flights until days later, confront the reality that airlines are not required to provide a hotel room or meal vouchers for cancellations caused by weather or other 'acts of God.'"
Under new rules that began on Saturday, scheduling must factor in flights when pilots report for work late at night or early in the morning, because of possible fatigue.

Mr. Wilson continued, "The airlines try to slip in the weather excuse for a delay when it was a factor for crews being timed out, (rest regulations), so compensation to passengers, even though it is partially the airline's fault for not having ample and proper crew placement because of weather delays/cancellations, will still be questionable as the airlines hope to blame something else to eliminate or reduce the inconvenienced customer's compensation."

"This is something FlyersRights may want to take closer look at," he said. "It has always been the case of course, but I see it more prominent now as the airlines struggle to keep pilot hiring to a minimum to meet the new rest/duty regulations."

A new year means more letters to FlyersRights! 

Question: Dear FlyersRights, I recently sent the following letter to British Air:

British Airways Customer Relations USA
Dear Sir/Madam:

I beg you to waive the second of two $1000 change fees charged to my Bank of America credit card account.  I called on December 2 to change the date of our two Dec. 5, 2013 tickets from Copenhagen to New York City because of ongoing treatment for my Achilles tendon injury. I agreed to the surprising, rather expensive $500 per ticket fee, since I really had little option. However, when the confirmation e-mail arrived, I immediately noticed that the date was incorrectly stated as April 15, which was impossible, because it was a month before our confirmed arrival in Copenhagen by ship.  
In less than one and one-half hours from the original call, I telephoned back to correct the date to May 15.  I don't know if I had mistakenly given the incorrect information or if the incorrect date was inserted on your end, but I was told that nothing could be done to negate a second $1000 change fee charge. The response was something like "rulers are rules and nothing can be done".  
A three way conversation with Bank of America, a British Air  representative, and me produced the same unfortunate outcome.  Even assuming that it was my error in confusing the fourth for the fifth month,  I think that the second fee is exorbitant and patently unfair.  Please help me rectify this unfortunate, overly expensive circumstance.

Yours truly,


A change fee of $1,000 per ticket is clearly exorbitant for a flight months away, especially for a change that was quickly corrected and may have been due to an airline error.  This type of airline charge would be prohibited in the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights 2.0 point three which would limit change fees to no more than 200% over the cost to the airline, probably about $100 in your case. 
Under US DOT rules you can change or cancel a reservation within 24 hours and receive a full refund without penalty if the reservation was made at least one week prior to the departure date.  British Airways contract of carriage states that "amendment or cancellation charges will be applied to your booking as determined by the country of departure, currency booked in and any special conditions attached to the product you have chosen."  Accordingly, the airline should refund the extra $1,000 it charged you, and if it does not, you can file a complaint with the US DOT against the airline.  You may also seek relief in small claims court, though the airline has the right to remove the case to US District Court. 

The US DOT still has the power to regulate international airfare change fees to reasonable amounts, but as a matter of policy has declined to do so since domestic fares were deregulated.  Separately, it also has the power to prohibit "deceptive or unfair" airline practices, but has so far declined to do so where regulation would directly impact air fares and extra fees. 
Paul Hudson
President, FlyersRights

Q. Paul and Kate,

I just came across your organization after doing some research on flyers rights as a result of my experience with Delta in the last 24 hours.  I flew Delta to Detroit over the holiday and on the flight they offered complimentary headsets (the 15-cent earbuds). On my return flight, I realized I had left my own pair back at the departure destination.  So, the next time a flight crew member walked by, I asked him for a pair of complementary headsets only to be told that I have to pay 2 dollars for the pair.  I mentioned that they were complementary on the other flight, only to be told that I either pay or not get a headset.  Normally, I wouldn't really care that much about this, but the corporate inconsistency really bugged me (in addition to the general bad attitude exhibited by the individual attendant), so I emailed Delta to ask for a policy clarification. 
Here's what I wrote to them initially: 
"Message: I just asked one of the flight attendants for a complimentary set of headphones. He responded that those are only free on international flights. However, the flight crew on 822 to Detroit did give out the headphones for free. Your policy is a bit confusing. Regardless, it's a cheap, 2-dollar pair of earbuds. Why I have to basically beg for a pair is beyond me. It's not your flight crew's fault they're being stingy and following what I believe is protocol, but still, these are 2 dollar headphones we're talking about, not a bottle of Jack Daniels. You guys need to, and can, do better than that." 
And here's the email I received in reply:

Hello Anton,
RE: Case Number 10685677
Thank you for expressing your dissatisfaction when our flight attendant asked for a fee for a headset.
I'm sorry you were not happy with our decision to charge you for a headset on your recent flight. For future reference, you can always bring your own headset. We don't charge anything if you choose to use personal headphones, and you'll have more control of the quality and comfort.
We Hear You!
I will be sure to forward your comments on to our Revenue Management. We'll use your feedback to help us improve our service.
As a loyal SkyMiles member, we've enjoyed serving you on many of our flights. Thanks for being so loyal to Delta.
Ashley P. Josh
You Share, We Care"
Clearly the "We hear you" slogan is just empty PR.  Nowhere did the representative answer my question about the policy, and the level of condescension thrown toward a frequent flyer is something that I believe warranted an email to your organization, even if for no other reason but to continue to provide you with examples of terrible customer service in order to use those examples to hopefully affect a change. 
All of us frequent flyers appreciate the effort you folks are putting in to make a positive difference for future travelers. 
Best Regards,

A. Airlines generally do not admit mistakes to avoid liability, expense and losing face.  This can lead to an ingrained corporate culture of arrogance and patronizing customers.  This is counterproductive as admitting a mistake or changing or clarifying a policy for a $2 item would clearly go a long way to build good customer relations and loyalty. 

Some airlines have adopted a policy of "the customer is always wrong, and we just need to placate them with rhetoric."  You may receive a better answer by directing your complaint to the CEO and to head of Customer Relations at Delta and following up with the Revenue Dept. Finally, the fact that your complaint will now be seen by many thousands of other Delta customers in this newsletter may also help. 

Paul Hudson
President, FlyersRights

Q. I appreciate the work Flyers Rights is doing. Frankly, though, petitions and small changes in the law aren't going to make a fundamental difference.

What has fundamentally turned air travel into an ordeal is price competition. Airlines know that passengers want the lowest price, regardless of how uncomfortable or even degrading the flight is. Pricing deregulation worked pretty well for some years, but that was in a completely different economic atmosphere. Today and as far as one can predict, cost cutting by the airlines will continue to make passengers in cattle class miserable.

Price deregulation must end. I don't care for the idea of bureaucrats setting airfares, but it's better than the current insanity. There is no God-given right to cheap flights for everyone. The ticket buyer needs to pay enough for airlines to feel confident of making a decent profit -- not a killing, just a reasonable return. In other businesses, the customer pays what the seller asks or doesn't buy. Why should airlines be different?

Then airlines would compete on service and amenities, not chiseling away every vestige of comfort. I realize that the U.S. has no say over what airlines based in other countries charge, but at least we could greatly improve domestic service -- and international travelers might rediscover the value of paying a little more for a better experience.


A. In theory, competition by many providers of a service drives down prices, and improves quality and promotes efficiency and innovation.  So called free markets also depend on rules to enforce fair competition, especially in something potentially life threatening like air travel.  
Government regulation of air safety, security, plus financial stability and minimum standards of comfort is both essential and the worldwide norm.  
Without regulation and enforcement, we would have situations like the Titanic where cost cutting led to a lack of life boats, means of egress for steerage passengers, and ignoring of safety standards causing massive loss of life.

Since airline deregulation, there has been a lowering of airfares and a proliferation of routes and flights, but also a reduction of comfort, service, reliability, often an increase in travel times and in recent years a drastic reduction in the number of airlines.  

The answer, we think, is reasonable regulation to fix the problems that price deregulation has generated, not a return to re-regulation of prices.  Also, pro-competition measures like opening up US domestic air travel to foreign airlines may be needed to prevent the four remaining large airlines from siginificantly raising prices.

 If price regulation is needed (and this needs to be carefully studied and debated) it should be in the direction of minimums and maximums within very broad ranges. 
Paul Hudson
President, FlyersRights

Q. I just read your year-end newsletter. You were wrong about the knives. What the TSA wanted to allow were knives so small they could not be used as a weapon of any consequence. What you've done was you made an emotional decision, not one based on fact. The TSA was right on that one. Other groups did the same thing, even some who should have known better. (No, I don't work for the TSA.)

Also, I don't like the small seats either, but let the market place decide that issue. If people don't want to sit in the small seats, let them choose another airline. Our government is supposed to be a Constitutional a Republic with limited powers, and our market place is supposed to be one based on Capitalism. Keep government out of things they have no constitutional authority to be in, and let the marketplace determine the available seating. Lobby the airlines on this one, not government.


A. The knives to be permitted by TSA were similar to if not more dangerous than those used by the 9/11 terrorists to kill nearly 3,000.  
The TSA decision to reverse itself on knives was based on good reasons: overwhelming opposition from flight attendants, TSA security screeners, many security experts and passenger interest groups, excepting only the knife lobby, which had secretly lobbied for the policy change.

Since airline deregulation, the mantra has been the market will correct any problems  and abuses. However, unfettered markets can easily lead to dangerous conditions: price fixing, bribery, monopolies, cartels, and other deceptive, corrupt and unfair but highly profitable practices. 

The US Constitution does not enshrine unfettered capitalism, but merely prohibits barriers to interstate commerce. The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 has had the extraordinary effect, due to judicial interpretation, of exempting airlines from all state and local consumer protection and tort law that apply to all other corporations (excepting only negligence causing physical injury or death). 

Airline seat size and padding are unregulated and can now be reduced by airlines to the point of threatening health and safety, as well as comfort. Passengers cannot easily choose seat size type by changing airlines, especially now that only four airlines (American, Delta, United and Southwest) control over 80% of all domestic flights.

The Airline Passenger Bill of Rights 2.0 calls for a moratorium on further seat size reductions while the FAA sets minimum seat standards.

Paul Hudson
President, FlyersRights 
Request for Volunteer Assistance!
FlyersRights needs someone with some time and some flying experience to help with answering the Hotline and/or replying to emails that come in. 
Contact Joel Smiler, Hotline Director, at
Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights

Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights

FlyersRights depends on tax-deductible contributions from those who share our commitment to airline passenger rights. 


ou will be sent the latest FlyersRights publications and newsletters. You aren't merely supporting our mission, you become a part of FlyersRights. 
Thank you. 


4411 Bee Ridge Road 

Sarasota, FL 34233
We welcome your thoughts and opinions

Email your letters to: