Tuesday, October 20, 2015

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One Less Major
October 20, 2015

What does that mean for you? Well, a key stated goal of this merger - as with the previous Delta/Northwest and United/Continental deals - was to reduce "excess capacity" in domestic passenger aviation. That's a polite way of saying less competition and less service. 
Smaller cities have seen the pinch. Previously, US Airways and American both served Tallahassee - the former routed passengers through its Charlotte hub and the latter through its Dallas and Miami hubs. 

But the merged airline cut the Charlotte service, figuring that network access through Dallas and Miami is enough to compete with Delta's service through Atlanta. When airlines merge, the smallest hubs in the new larger airline tend to lose out and shrink.

Traveling in some undeveloped regions of the globe can be a nightmare - passengers are treated like livestock, service is snappy, rules are irrational, delays are commonplace, and the whole experience is painful. 

Happily, here in advanced America, we have modern airlines - on which passengers are treated like livestock, service is snappy, rules are irrational, delays are commonplace, and the whole experience is painful.

Now that four giant air carriers control about 87 percent of the American market, airline executives can turn 'Capitalism 101' on its head. Airlines can intentionally decrease the number of flights as public demand for air travel has steadily increased. It's the opposite of how a free market economy is supposed to work - if consumer demand is up, companies theoretically respond by increasing supply.

With four major US airlines, pricing can now be tightly controlled. They'll take turns proposing fare increases or decreases. But don't be fooled - it is a game called, "pretend competition." Airfares and fees have gone up regularly in 2015. When airlines pretend, competition loses.
An obscure fact is that there are fewer total domestic flights today than back in 2000. That's
astonishing. With more passengers flying, the actual number of flights has not increased.
A decade ago, planes flew on average at around 60 percent load factors. Today they're flying at nearly 90 percent. That means airlines have been able to fly 50 percent more passengers than back in the early 2000s.

The airline trend of packing as many passengers per plane as possible may reach a new height. The European aircraft manufacturer Airbus Group has applied for a patent on a seat configuration that adds a row of passengers on top of passengers in seats on the floor of the cabin, similar to bunk beds.
Due to tighter seating, the airlines have been able to add another 15-20 percent more passengers, all with the same number of planes. 
"Economy Class Cabin Hexagon,"proposal. To maximaize space, the idea is to take the middle seat and turn it around 180 degrees.

Airlines like it that way. If they could, they would stack passengers like firewood.

In a competitive market, an airline would add seats that would make the market more competitive.

More competition would mean airfares might drop. However, don't count on this.

Capacity discipline reduces supply and rising demand means higher prices.
The passenger loses, again.


What to watch for in Congress:

Currently, airlines are aggressively lobbying Congress and the Obama administration on a host of issues, from foreign competitors to consumer rules. Among the items on their agenda:


-Delta, United and American airlines and the Air Line Pilots Association are pressing the administration for a freeze in the number of flights to the U.S. by Persian Gulf airlines Emirates, Etihad and Qatar. 

-The three U.S. carriers and their pilot unions are fighting an application by Norwegian Air International, a subsidiary of the third-largest low-cost carrier in Europe, to expand its flights to the U.S. from Europe and Asia. 


-Several airlines took their case all the way to the Supreme Court in an effort to block a FlyersRights backed Transportation Department regulation that requires the full ticket price, including taxes and fees, be the most prominent fare in the largest type on search screens and in ads. 

After they lost, and the rule came into force last year, the airlines twice persuaded the House to pass a bill to roll back the rule. The Senate has shown no interest in taking up the bill, but the industry says the issue isn't dead.

-Airlines object to proposed regulations that would require everyone who sells airline tickets to tell consumers the cost of a first and second checked bag, an advance seat assignment and a carry-on bag on the first search screen where airfares are displayed, rather than waiting until a consumer has selected a fare and is checking out. That way, the Transportation Department reasons, consumers will know the full cost of the trip from the beginning and won't be surprised later by fees, which can vary widely.


-Airlines are using their political muscle to convince Congress to spin off air traffic control operations from the government to a nonprofit corporation. They say years of federal budget uncertainty have hindered efforts to modernize the air traffic system. Private aircraft operators worry the change would shift costs to them and force them out of busy airports to make more room for airlines.

Competition is losing. DOT needs to take action. The US airline response that seeks to erase competition is not productive. Competition should be met with better service, a better product and a marketing campaign that highlights an airline's strengths, not by restricting trade when airline find themselves unable to compete.

We can bring power back to the people. Make your voice count by signing FlyersRights petitions.

Our Acclaim:

Getting on a Plane? 
Put This Number in Your Phone:
1 (877) Flyers6
The FlyersRights HOTLINE!
We publish weekly newsletters. There's no charge to receive any of them:
FlyersRights is a nonprofit organization that depends on contributions from people like you!

Help us make air travel a better experience, or simply show your gratitude for whatever value you find in our work, by making a tax-deductible donation:
Do you how desperately this country needs a Passengers' Bill of Rights? Which allows for passengers to be treated like humans even when things don't go so well? Airlines prefer you to sit entire flights on the tarmacs during delays with no food or water, or simply denying access to information.

Comments? Complaints? Criticisms? Send to the newsletter editor: 
Twitter: @KendallFlyers

Thursday, October 15, 2015

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Help An Old Friend

October 13, 2015

Dear Friends,
How much discomfort can travelers stand?

Every now and again we ask for your financial help in keeping us afloat. 

The fact is,  that time is now! Help us keep the lights on. We need your donations for office expenses - the Hotline, bookkeeping, resources needed to cover the news and legislative efforts.

Please donate at flyersrights.org/donate.php.

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.


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)3 vehicle :

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:

4411 Bee Ridge Rd. #274
Sarasota, FL 34233

Let's Review:

  • Flyersrights Hotline: 877-FLYERS6 (877-359-3776)
  • Flyersrights Website: www.flyersrights.org
  • Government Numbers:
  • DOT Aviation Consumer Complaints Phone: 202-366-2220
  • DOT Aviation Consumer Complaints Email Address: airconsumer@dot.gov
  • Congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121
  • Media Outlets to contact in case of Stranding:
  • Jad Mouawad @ New York Times:  @jadmouawad 
  • Ben Mutzabaugh @  USA Today Aviation Reporter:   @TodayInTheSky
  • Sheryl Jean @ Dallas Morning News:  214-977-8750 sjean@dallasnews.com  @SJeanDallas
  • John Hughes @ Bloomberg: 202-624-1819, @BloombergHughes

  • 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 

    Most Frequently Requested Airline Toll-Free Numbers:
    AIRTRAN AIRWAYS800.247.8726
    AIR CANADA888.247.2262
    ALASKA AIRLINES800.426.0333
    AMERICAN TRANS AIR (ATA)800.435.9282
    DELTA AIRLINES800.221.1212
    FRONTIER AIRLINES800.432.1359
    US AIRWAYS800.428.4322

    All Airline Toll-Free Numbers List:
    AER LINGUS800.474.7424
    AERO CALIFORNIA800.237.6225
    AIR CANADA888.247.2262
    CHINA AIRLINES800.227.5118
    AIR EUROPA888.238.7672
    AIR FRANCE800.237.2747
    AIR INDIA800.223.7776
    AIR JAMAICA800.523.5585
    AIR MAURITIUS800.537.1182
    AIR NEW ZEALAND800.262.1234
    AIR PACIFIC800.227.4446
    AIR PORTUGAL (TAP)800.221.7370
    AIR TAHITI NUE877.824.4846
    AIR TRANSAT877.872.6728
    AIR ZIMBABWE800.742.3006
    ALASKA AIRLINES800.426.0333
    ALITALIA AIRLINES800.223.5730
    ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS800.235.9262
    ALOHA AIRLINES800.367.5250
    AMERICAN AIRLINES800.433.7300
    AMERICAN EAGLE800.433.7300
    AMERICAN TRANS AIR (ATA)800.435.9282
    ASIANA AIRLINES800.227.4262
    AUSTRIAN AIRLINES800.843.0002
    BAHAMAS AIR800.222.4262
    BRITISH AIRWAYS800.247.9297
    BRITISH MIDLAND800.788.0555
    CATHAY PACIFIC800.233.2742
    CAYMAN AIRLINES800.422.9626
    CHINA AIRLINES800.227.5118
    DELTA AIRLINES800.221.1212
    EGYPT AIR800.334.6787
    EL AL ISRAEL800.223.6700
    EMIRATES AIR800.777.3999
    EVA AIRLINES800.695.1188
    FRONTIER AIRLINES800.432.1359
    GULF AIR888.359.4853
    HAWAIIAN AIRLINES800.367.5320
    HARMONY AIRWAYS866.868.6789
    HORIZON AIR800.547.9308
    IBERIA AIRLINES800.772.4642
    JAPAN AIRLINES800.525.3663
    KLM ROYAL DUTCH800.374.7747
    KOREAN AIR800.438.5000
    KUWAIT AIRLINES800.621.2175
    LAN CHILE866.435.9526
    LACSA COSTA RICA800.225.2272
    MALAYSIAN AIRLINES800.552.9264
    MESA AIRLINES800.637.2247
    MESABA AIRLINES800.225.2525
    MEXICANA AIRLINES800.531.7921
    MIDWEST AIRLINES800.452.2022
    NORTHWEST AIRLINES800.225.2525
    OLYMPIC AIRWAYS800.223.1226
    QANTAS AIRLINES800.227.4500
    ROYAL AIR MAROC800.344.6726
    ROYAL NEPAL800.266.3725
    SINGAPORE AIRLINES800.742.3333
    SUN COUNTRY800.359.6786
    SPIRIT AIRLINES800.772.7117
    TACA AIRLINES800.535.8780
    THAI AIRWAYS800.426.5204
    UNITED AIRLINES800.241.6522
    UNITED EXPRESS800.241.6522
    US AIRWAYS800.428.4322
    VIRGIN ATLANTIC800.862.8621
    Our Acclaim:

    Getting on a Plane? 
    Put This Number in Your Phone:
    1 (877) Flyers6
      1 (877) 359-3776
    The FlyersRights HOTLINE!
    We publish weekly newsletters. There's no charge to receive any of them:
    FlyersRights is a nonprofit organization that depends on contributions from people like you!

    Comments? Complaints? Criticisms? Send to the newsletter editor: kendallc@FlyersRights.org
    Twitter: @KendallFlyers

    Tuesday, October 6, 2015

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    Sorry, We Think

    October 6, 2015

    Just give us a few inches of legroom back in coach and we’ll call it even.

    That may be the public reaction to United Airlines’ new CEO Oscar Munoz’s hangdog face in ads and video last week on an apology tour for “failing their employees and customers.”

    Interestingly, in the video, Munoz asks for your ideas on the action they should take and invites people to go to UnitedAirtime.com and leave suggestions. He remarks that they’ve received “thousands” of ideas, yet on the site there are less than 20 comments. How about some transparency?

    It appears more like a PR move than a commitment to change. By the way, if you want to skip the slick site and write directly to Munoz, here’s how.

    Apparently, in the past five years, no problems were noticed in the executive suites. It was only after the previous CEO got caught up in a New Jersey corruption scandal that these issues came to their attention.

    This sort of apology is too silly to even comprehend.

    Will an apology get passengers more legroom, or good customer service? Will it stop the unlawful collusion to fix prices and cut services?

    Will it keep the airlines from calling a flight cancellation “weather” when the reason is maintenance? Will it stop the airlines from turning a profit on your lost luggage and a crippled mileage program?

    No, we didn’t think so.

    Does the apology address the outsourcing of 2,000 United jobs at 28 airports, or the contracting out of many flights to express and regional jets? What about the closing of so many mainline stations that you can barely call them an airline anymore?

    Does “sorry” mean United will invest in new computer hardware to address system “glitches” that ruined travel for hundreds of thousands of passengers over the summer? Does it mean reliable and functional Wi-Fi onboard? What about inflated fees for ticket changes, and overbooking flights?

    Or does “sorry” mean continued focus on stockholder value and inflating profit with junk fees and idiotic layoffs?

    We’ve been railing about this for years. America is no longer the leader in the customer flight experience. Instead, we’re the leader in “hocus-pocus” fares, smoke and mirrors fees, and financial shell games.

    United pilots aren’t buying it, and they are speaking out, saying that the place to start is by following Delta’s example of profit-sharing.

    This has paid off with 100 days of no cancellations of their mainline flights.

    At this point, it may be too late to turn the United ship around.

    FlyersRights' audio interviews last week: 

    With New Hampshire NPR: 

    With Ralph Nader:

    Tweet Of The Week!

    From the -'How About More Legroom Department' - Forbes is touting a great, new "economy aircraft seat" -but with a deceptive photo - of a SPACIOUS upgraded seat! Thanks to Ira Goldman -inventor of the 'Knee Defender' for the catch:

    Your Letters!

    Dear FlyersRights:

         My husband is Executive Platinum and I am Platinum in the "new AAdvantage" system; I assure you that having status counts for virtually NOTHING when there are issues with flights!  Recently a delay due to a mechanical problem forced me to miss my connection; I tried to stand-by for every available subsequent flight to my destination; I have status, a club membership AND had purchased "discounted business" seats but I couldn't get on any flight in any class!  And, at the end of the day (after over twelve hours in CLT) when it became clear that I was not going to make it to my destination in time for my meeting, I almost couldn't get home!!!  The flights are so oversold that premium customers can't even get on a flight despite missing their connection due to the airline's problems.  BUT, heaven help us if we have a problem.

         Your comments about the travel of our elected officials are very pertinent and I will add a suggestion that I passed on to Mr. Elliott previously--the only way that airline travel will improve is if airline executives (including Mr. Parker!!!) are required to fly in a middle coach seat which is NOT an exit row at least once a month.  My heart goes out to the front line employees who are forced to implement the impossible rules that currently exist but at least they are paid for their suffering while we have to pay for the privilege of it!

    Best regards,

    Dear FlyersRights:

    This was on Facebook posted by Dr. Amy Myers. I thought that Flyer's Rights would find it interesting to read.
    My husband and I just arrived to Nicaragua for a few days of R&R. Our vacation got off to a great start as we got upgraded to first class. ( please note we were upgraded bc my husband used to fly a lot. We did not buy first class tickets)
    However our flight went south quickly. It was United Flight 1432. Two flight attendants were so rude.
    It was a 3 hour flight and as you know how carry my Kleen Kanteen everywhere. We did not have time to fill up at our layover.
    They announced our descent and I hopped up to go to restroom and get a bit more water before landing. I asked the attendant to fill my water bottle She told me there was not enough to fill my water bottle as she held an unopened liter bottle. I looked the unopened bottle and simply said " aren't we about to land" She shoved the whole water at me and said "take it"
    I went to my seat. A few minutes later the male attendant came up to my seat with attitude and said they were going to "write me up" and I replied politely " for what? asking for water". Yes and he said. And all but pulled out his hand to wave it in my face. Telling me there was only a limited amount for the plane . Again I said" I understand and we are about to land"
    I am sure had I wanted another Coke or HFCS filled drink I would have been given all I wanted to drink with no issue. But heaven forbid I wanted WATER on a 3 hour flight!!

    If water is limited on your flights, United, then ditch the cokes and make more room for water.
    Joanne L

    Our Acclaim:

    Getting on a Plane? 
    Put This Number in Your Phone:
    1 (877) Flyers6
      1 (877) 359-3776
    The FlyersRights HOTLINE!
    We publish weekly newsletters. There's no charge to receive any of them:
    FlyersRights is a nonprofit organization that depends on contributions from people like you!

    Help us make air travel a better experience, or simply show your gratitude for whatever value you find in our work, by making a tax-deductible donation:
    Do you how desperately this country needs a Passengers' Bill of Rights? Which allows for passengers to be treated like humans even when things don't go so well? Airlines prefer you to sit entire flights on the tarmacs during delays with no food or water, or simply denying access to information.
    Comments? Complaints? Criticisms? Send to the newsletter editor: kendallc@FlyersRights.org
    Twitter: @KendallFlyers