Now, take a pre-FlyersRights-era stroll down memory lane to winters gone by, when bad weather repeatedly caused passengers on hundreds of flights to be stranded on airplanes that had pulled away from the gate but then sat idle on tarmacs, neither taking off nor returning to the terminal, for three, five, even 12 hours and more.
From these attrocicities, FlyersRights was born. Despite a hard-fought battle with the airline industry, we achieved a federal rule setting fines of up to $27,000 per passenger for airlines that keep passengers stuck for over three hours on the tarmac.
The impact of the rule change has been dramatic, with the number of flights suffering tarmac waits of more than three hours falling 97% (1,299 to 44) from 2008 through last year!
Still, it's a very important time for FlyersRights. The civil liberties of airline passengers has seen a steady and relentless erosion since 9/11.
In August, FlyersRights filed a petition with the Transportation Department (DOT) to have the Federal Aviation Administration set minimum seat and passenger space standards. Airlines are fighting aggressively against us and want no restrictions on reducing seat size and legroom, leading to increased health and safety risks.
Back in February, we petitioned the DOT to cap charges for changing flights to $100.
We also filed legal papers that got DOT to correct its misinformation in its Fly Rights publication saying there was no delay compensation - when, in fact, the Montreal Convention and EU provide for up to $2600 for flight delays on international trips.
Currently, we are about to file a rulemaking petition with DOT to require airlines to advise consumers of these rights rather than hiding them, or simply lying to passengers -saying they have no delay compensation rights.
You need FlyersRights because the airlines and many members of Congress are battling passenger protections - and individuals have zero negotiating power. Either you accept the airlines' rules or don't fly.
High quality consumer advocacy requires investment!
Over the years we've achieved many goals:
Transparancy - Airlines must disclosure all mandatory taxes and fees in published airfares, instead of simply putting asterisks with all the taxes and fees in the mouse print. Airlines must also disclose baggage fees.
24 Hour Hold - If you need to change or cancel a ticket within 24 hours of buying it, you can do so without penalty (assuming you're booking at least 1 week before departure). You can also hold a reservation for 24 hours before paying for it.
Route Changes - DOT now requires airlines to give you prompt notification of delays, cancellations and route changes. And if you don't agree, you get a full refund of the fare (without any penalties, even for a nonrefundable fare) so you can rebook (at your own expense) a more suitable flight.
Bumping - If airline bumps and rebooks you on flight that arrives at your destination within two hours (or between one and four hours for international destinations) of your originally scheduled arrival, then you are entitled to 200% of the one-way fare you paid to get to your final destination, up to $650.
If your delay is more than two hours or if the airline doesn't make alternate travel arrangements for you, your compensation doubles to 400% of your one-way fare, up to $1,300.
Refreshments, Communication and Accommodation -The airline is required to provide to delayed passengers, free of charge:
Meals and refreshments in proportion to waiting time
Two phone calls or emails
Hotel accommodation and transport between the airport and hotel, if a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary
Lost Luggage - If the airline loses your checked bags, and it was domestic travel, the airline is required to reimburse you for up to $3300.
Still, much more needs to be done for the rights of passengers who are being squeezed physically and financially as never before.
Friends, FlyersRights is here for you, now we're asking that you be there for us. Your generous contributions will lift us and our financial burden. THANK YOU
Does your company offer a matching gifts for nonprofits program?
Approved bythe IRS in June, 2011, the Flyers Rights Education Fund is the education and service arm of our organization. The Fund gives you a way to contribute to our airline passenger rights efforts through a tax-deductible 501(c)3vehicle :
For individuals, you'll receive a write-off for your next tax return! The more you donate, the more you can write off. You can also send checks to either FlyersRights.org or Flyers Rights Education Fund at:
To file a complaint in NY, airline passengers may contact the newly established:
Office of the Airline Consumer Advocate
New York State Consumer Protection Board
5 Empire State Plaza, Suite 2101, Albany, NY 12223
Phone Toll Free: 1-800-697-1220
To file a complaint with the US Department of Transportation:
Aviation Consumer Protection Division, C-75
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave, SE, Washington, DC 20590
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.