Wednesday, January 29, 2014

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
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