FlyersRights Calls on Airlines to Lose the Asterisk
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Last week, FlyersRights called on House Members to put the brakes on H.R. 4156 - the deceptively titled "Transparent Airfares Act of 2014".
The bill is backed by the airline industry, with the goal of putting the asterisk back in airfares.
It would undo our Full Fare Advertising Rule passed in 2012 by the Department of Transportation (DOT), that requires airlines to advertise the full cost of a ticket, including taxes and fees levied by airport authorities and federal, state and local governments.
As it's written, the bill would allow airlines to report a base fare, then separately disclose the full cost of the ticket. Such as, Airfares From Only $1!*
The president of the American Society of Travel Agents, Zane Kerby, said the bill "would allow airlines to deceive travelers about the actual cost of a flight."
"The airlines challenged the rule in court and lost, then tried the United States Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case. Congress should stay its hand here," Kerby said. "There is no evidence of consumer harm under the DOT rule, only benefits for the traveling public."
The bill was passed out of Committee in April without any hearings, debate or opportunity for consumer or travel industry stakeholders to inform Congress of their views and the flaws in this bill. This contentious legislation would harm consumers by reversing a DOT rule implemented in 2012 to stop misleading airline advertising.
House Members should reject this Rules Suspension scheme and insist on proper deliberation of this anti-consumer legislation.
Most of the bill's
cosponsorsare members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and many also are among the top recipients of campaign contributions from the airline industry, according to opensecrets.org.
Bill Shuster (R-PA) has received $195,750 from the air transport industry (the most of any member of Congress); ranking Democrat Nick Rahall of West Virginia has received $62,500; and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has reported $121,721 in airline industry contributions during this election cycle.
Does the phrase "bought and paid for" come to mind?
FlyersRights president, Paul Hudson, said "Pay-to-Play" appears to be alive and well. It is not illegal for members of Congress to accept campaign contributions from special interests and then sponsor their legislation unless there is a quid pro quo, but members who then seek to shut out public input for controversial anti-consumer legislation have crossed another ethical if not legal line."
(or, Ben Hur Airlines)
How far will the airline industry go to squeeze in more passengers per plane?
Airbus has filed a patent for a new kind of economy seats which makes passengers sit on something akin to a bicycle saddles.
As if coach seats were not already horrible. Would you pay to fly on a bike seat?
The so-called saddle seating would allow the airline to fit far more passengers into flights lasting 'a couple of hours'.
The diagram appears to have forgotten each passenger's assigned galley oars and a drummer providing the beat.
When the seats are not in use, the would flip up to create more space in the cabin.
Each of the bicycle seats is fastened to a vertical bar, and the seats retract to increase space when not in use.
Airbus calculates that the traveling public will accept this reduced level of comfort since most flights are relatively short.
And they're going to pass any cost savings on to you .....
Maximizing the discomfort of economy class serves to increase the sales of the overpriced "upgrade" tickets. Thus, the point of these seats is not only to maximize the number of sardines crammed into the tin, but also to increase the number of business and 1st class seats sold.
This is why you need FlyersRights and the protection of government regulations!
Customer files lawsuit against Expedia after paying $650 in surprise bag fees
A customer is suing Expedia after paying $650 round-trip for his family of four's luggage after the online travel agency claimed the first checked bag would be free with the airfare purchase.
The lawsuit, which is seeking class action status, was filed in King County Superior Court last week. The suit also alleges that Expedia was deceptive by offering a discount for making a purchase from its mobile application, but then ultimately not delivering the discount.
The suit alleges that the customer "was falsely promised by Expedia that he would receive a 5% discount on his airfare purchase, and was falsely promised airfare for which there would be 'no fee' for first checked baggage."
(Letters to FlyersRights.org may be published in edited form without further notice with names and contact info protected, unless writer marks the letter, "Not For Publication".)
Here is an interesting news item from the Sunday Times, dated July 13th, regarding the grounding of three Air India Dreamliners in a single week.
One in Sydney on Thursday because of a landing gear snag - it would have been unable to retract its wheels after take-off. Engineers and spare parts were to arrive on Friday, but the delay would be for two to three days.
One in Hong Kong last Monday when the Dreamliner sprang an oil leak. It was still in Hong Kong as of Sunday.
Last Saturday, in Delhi, another Boeing 787 had trouble with its braking assembly, and the unfortunate passengers spent hours inside the plane.
Delhi has yet to see the monsoon; it must have been incredibly hot.
I wonder what happened to these passengers? Were they made to wait for hours, as we were on 2nd July at Heathrow?
Were they made to sit in the plane for hours, as we were, while the crew told us the snag would be rectified in a few minutes.
We were finally off-loaded, but got the same statement. Reached a hotel at midnight, with no food. Our plane arrived in Mumbai 30 hours late.
My son returned from England on Air India B 787 (AI 130) on 9th July, which was delayed for several hours due to a 'technical snag'. The plane took off with no lights in the passenger section other than the emergency lights, no entertainment, and cold food as the ovens were not working. I wonder just how legal it was to fly passengers under such conditions. He said there was no information given, no explanations, and of course no offer of compensation. I do hope some of those passengers complain.
I now see that Air India has joined Star Alliance.
I wonder if this will improve matters. Or is it just another way to fool passengers into believing the airlines really care about their passenger?
Unless passengers start complaining and asserting their right to decent treatment, they will get the treatment they have, sadly, come to expect. But should we expect to be treated as if we don't matter? Should we, as my agent suggested, upgrade to business class so we get seats comfortably wide and spaced further apart, although at a huge cost? And will this prevent AI from bluffing that they will take off shortly when they know it will be several hours, if not longer? I don't think so.
This is what we want:
Airlines should communicate to passengers the reason for delay, clearly and frequently, giving the true estimated time needed for repairs.
If the airline knows repairs will take several hours, passengers should be given the option of changing to another airline.
Passengers should get their baggage back. If you are going on holiday you don't want to wait several days while your bags catch up with you.
Even if you are going home, you don 't want to make a couple of trips to your airport - which may be distant - to find out if your bags have arrived. You want your baggage with you. Few of us can carry a change of clothes and other necessities in our hand baggage.
If passengers opt to stay with the airline they should get food and accommodation if needed without having to scream for it.
Passengers should be given a lounge with seating, decent facilities for food, access to toilets, and facilities for children and the elderly, who have special needs of their own.
They should not be left standing around wondering what happens next, and afraid to go to the rest-room in case they miss an announcement.
Acquiring the Boeing 787 seems to have been a huge mistake. It has been plagued with problems from inception, and all the gimmicks of darkening windows and self-flushing toilets will not change the fact that this aircraft was a bad buy. The Dreamliner has become a nightmare, and passengers would be well advised to avoid booking flights on this aircraft.
There is a rumour that eight of Air India's fleet of Dreamliners are being used for spares.... obviously I can't verify this.
And if you go to their Facebook page it is full of praises for the new airliner...a lot of them (if not all) seem to be AI employees!
Perhaps a prerequisite for being employed by AI. I hope not.
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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.