Our new groundbreaking Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights was published this month, an update to our successful 2007 and 2011 versions.
Paul Hudson, FlyersRights' president, traveled to Washington and called upon the Department of Transportation and Congress to pass new legislation to further protect airline passenger rights.
The newly requested provisions include minimal standards for seat space and leg room, the right to carry on at least one piece of baggage without being subject to onerous fees, and further safeguards to the rights for food, water and access to toilet facilities on any flight lasting more than two hours.
Also, it would make it illegal for airlines to use "force majeure" (Acts of God) as an excuse to negate contract carriage agreements beyond what the law currently allows.
In June, FlyersRightscelebrated the success of its campaign to keep knives off planes along with the 90,000-strong Coalition of Flight Attendant Unions, law enforcement, gate agents and passengers. We commend TSA for holding the line against weapons on flights.
FlyersRights asked the question: has the FAA given too much power to the aircraft manufacturers? Boeing's 787 multiple incidents and operational problems uncovered a very cozy relationship between Boeing and the FAA.
Only FlyersRights was out front and center criticizing this laissez 'FAA'irearrangement, where safety took a back seat.
Back in August, FlyersRights saidPerge the Merge and applauded the Department of Justice (DOJ) for halting the $12 billion merger between American Airlines and USAirways as a victory for airline passengers. But the airlines' massive lobbying effort, including a 'fly-in' campaign, meant passengers could not win.
FlyersRights caught the DOJ lying to the public, repeatedly. The American Antitrust Institute also questioned the 'efficiencies' claimed by the airlines and agreed with us that the merger would drive up prices and damage service.
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, it took only a few days for Congress and the Bush administration to whip out the federal checkbook with a $15-billion bailout for U.S. air carriers.
With its second bankruptcy filing in two years, US Airways is like a drowning swimmer who keeps bobbing back to the surface. The struggling carrier got a nice chunk of that federal bailout money after emerging from Chapter 11 the first time around, winning a $900-million loan guarantee. It's possible that this time the airline will be able to keep its head above water, but more likely it's heading for the bottom and taking loads of public money with it.
Both AA and US Airways were gifted large sums of the $15 billion post 9/11 taxpayer fund government giveaway and both have continued to operate fast and loose in their business practices. Yet the government saw no reason to prevent this merger. Another example of who pulls the strings in Washington, and it sure ain't the will of the people.
The legendary aviation advocate, Paul Hudson, took over the reins from Kate Hanni as president of FlyersRights in January this year.
Mr. Hudson was formerly the Executive Director for the Aviation Consumer Action Project (ACAP). He was also the former president and founder of the Pan Am 103 Victims Family Organization, a delegate on the FAA Advisory Committee for Safety Rule-making, and has been a public interest lawyer since 1974.
Mr. Hudson's 16-year old daughter Melina died on Pan Am 103.
Dr. Joel Smiler, FlyersRights' long-time Hotline Director, also joined the boardearlier this year.
He is a graduate of Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Smiler was in partnership and management of the North Hills Veterinary Hospital in Rochester, Michigan. He is also the president of Rex Point Kennels, Inc., a large suburban pet boarding facility. Dr. Smiler is an accomplished practitioner and enjoys many areas of veterinary medicine, most notably behavior and dermatology.
Ed Mierzwinski is also joined the FlyersRights Board of Directors. He is the Federal Consumer Program Director and Senior Fellow for U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).
Mr. Mierzwinski often testifies before Congress, state legislatures and has written numerous reports on consumer issues, including airline passenger rights. He appears frequently on television and radio shows and is regularly quoted in major newspapers.
Kendall Creighton joined the board this year and is also theFlyersRights newsletter writer.
Ms. Creighton is a long-time political activist and previous Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) staffer in Washington. She also worked in the Clinton White House, Office of Environmental Policy. The DCCC later sent her to Montgomery, Alabama to support Democratic candidates in the South. As a frequent flyer, the fee games and TSA hassles spurred her reach out to Kate Hanni and join FlyersRights.
Quote of the Week!
I've been a police department volunteer for nearly 16 years and the following is what constitutes a legitimate law enforcement pat down:
Order of Systematic Search
Small of back
Pat down from bottom to top then legs
Anything beyond this is illegal.
(Thank you to Leigh)
Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights
Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights
Today is the Tax Deduction
Deadline: December 31.
Please consider an end of the year tax write-off donation to our 501(c)3.
FlyersRights depends on tax-deductible contributions from those who share our commitment to airline passenger rights. You can give appreciated stock for an extra tax deduction benefit. You will be sent the latest FlyersRights publications and newsletters. You aren't merely supporting our mission, you become a part of FlyersRights.
We are commited to solutions for promoting airline passenger policies that forward first and foremost the safety of all passengers while not imposing unrealistic economic burdens that adversely affect airline profitability or create exhorbitant ticket price increases.
All American air carriers shall abide by the following standards to ensure the safety, security and comfort of their passengers:
Establish procedures to respond to all passenger complaints within 24 hours and with appropriate resolution within 2 weeks.
Notify passengers within ten minutes of a delay of known diversions, delays and cancellations via airport overhead announcement, on aircraft announcement, and posting on airport television monitors.
Establish procedures for returning passengers to terminal gate when delays occur so that no plane sits on the tarmac for longer than three hours without connecting to a gate.
Provide for the essential needs of passengers during air- or ground-based delays of longer than 3 hours, including food, water, sanitary facilities, and access to medical attention.
Provide for the needs of disabled, elderly and special needs passengers by establishing procedures for assisting with the moving and retrieving of baggage, and the moving of passengers from one area of airport to another at all times by airline personnel.
Publish and update monthly on the company’s public web site a list of chronically delayed flights, meaning those flight delayed thirty minutes or more, at least forty percent of the time, during a single month.
Compensate “bumped” passengers or passengers delayed due to flight cancellations or postponements of over 12 hours by refund of 150% of ticket price.
The formal implementation of a Passenger Review Committee, made up of non-airline executives and employees but rather passengers and consumers – that would have the formal ability to review and investigate complaints.
Make lowest fare information, schedules and itineraries, cancellation policies and frequent flyer program requirements available in an easily accessed location and updated in real-time.
Ensure that baggage is handled without delay or injury; if baggage is lost or misplaced, the airline shall notify customer of baggage status within 12 hours and provide compensation equal to current market value of baggage and its contents.
Require that these rights apply equally to all airline code-share partners including international partners.