Wednesday, February 24, 2016

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Would You Let The Airlines "Fix" Air Travel?

February 24, 2016

"SFO to JFK from $99!" "Paris from $215!"

Just kidding.

However, US Representative Curbelo (R-Fla.) introduced an amendment recently to H.R. 4441, the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act of 2016 aimed at bringing back bait-and-switch airfares. 

Current federal law requires airlines to state the total fare, including taxes. 

The "Transparent Airfares Act "? 
Wow - You Can't Make This Stuff Up!

The Transparent Airfares Act was one of those feats of Orwellian-like double-speak that would do the exact opposite of what it claims to do.  

Introduced in March 2014, it went on to defeat, probably in part because it was obviously Orwellian even for Congress. In a nutshell, it makes comparison shopping for the best fare an exercise in futility.

Can you see the day when the average flight costs more in taxes and ancillary charges than it does in the actual fare? It is already possible to do that on some flights, given the array of fees that we pay along the way.

Here's a short list of  'problems' the airline lobbying group Airlines for America (A4A) would like to have changed:
  • Current law, which requires airlines to include taxes in the base advertised price, makes airfares appear artificially higher and less competitive 
  • We need to reverse government actions legislation 'harming' the industry
  • Cut taxation and regulation that stifles the "free market" for U.S. airlines
  • Stop DOT thinking it needs to protect customers from airlines 
Airline seats: Tight positions

Currently, the US Department of Transportation does not impose any standards for seat legroom, width or comfort. 

It has been years since airlines have been required to conduct these tests, and back then, they used young, fit employees to conduct the tests.

Any aircraft that has subsequently reduced seat width or pitch, or has added seats per row, should be required to re-certify to the 90-second evacuation standard for that configuration, using volunteers from the general population, conforming to demographic standards, without prior training in aircraft evacuation, and with those tests supervised by the FAA.

With commercial airlines packing more passengers per plane, many fliers believe that the federal government should adopt minimum airline seat standards for legroom and width to ensure the safety, health and comfort of travelers.

That was the sentiment of more than 30,000 people who signed a FlyersRights petition that was sent to FAA chief, Michael Huerta.

It asks the FAA to put a moratorium on any further reduction in seat space and to appoint a panel to come up with minimum seat standards.

"The shrinkage of seats and passenger space by airlines to generate higher profits while the size of passengers has substantially increased has created an intolerable crisis situation," according to the petition. "It is threatening the health, safety and comfort of all passengers."

The airline industry is uncompromising on seat space, with an A4A spokeswoman insisting that, "the government should not regulate, but instead market forces, which reflect consumer decisions, and competition should determine what is offered."

What an amusing attitude for an industry with little competition, that spends millions of lobbying dollars to keep lawmakers in line with their objectives, that uses predatory pricing to force rivals out.

Last week Congress shot down an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization bill last week that would have mandated more legroom for passengers on airplanes. 

Recently, FlyersRights wrote about the World Health Organization and other medical authorities "warning of higher risks of life threatening blood clots (DVT) caused by cramped seats, and lack of movement on flights over three hours. There are also societal concerns over reported increases in incidents of discord and unruly passenger disruptions due to overcrowding.

According to a recent Apex survey of air travelers, more legroom now has overwhelming public support. 

Passengers are not powerless to stop the trend to smaller seats and overcrowded airplanes. They can insist the FAA act now to set standards, and they can have a say in what those standards will be. 

We passengers don't willingly accept the discomfort of our present treatment by the airlines. The amount of discomfort imposed on us would be negotiable if we were viewed as an organized interest group. 

In this sense, the FlyersRights Bill of Rights would recognize passengers as a distinct group with a political voice. 

The Passenger Bill of Rights boils down to respect for persons, freedom of movement and property rights. All of which are already recognized a unexceptionable, basic human rights.

Support FlyersRights!

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  1 (877) 359-3776

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

How To Survive Flying

February 17, 2016

Nearly everyone is a little nervous when the airliner we are flying in charges down the runway or comes in for a less than perfect landing or has turbulence,  but statistics tell us that the chances of dying in an air disaster are extremely low.

However, for frequent flyers especially, there are some more common and insidious risks. has previously written about blood clots caused by sitting in cramped conditions at high altitude on long or frequent flights, that is aggravated by airlines shrinking seat sizes.  

Another health concern for frequent flyers particularly is radiation.  All radiation is known to cumulatively increase one's risk of cancer.

At higher altitudes, occupants are exposed to more cosmic rays, a high energy radiation that is largely absorbed by the atmosphere.  So one cross country round trip, it turns out is equivalent radiation exposure to a chest x-ray.   Back scatter x-rays used by TSA at airports has also had some experts concerned. 
So what can be done to counteract this?  Surprisingly the answer may be diet. 
Research funded by the National Cancer Institute, studied what foods might protect pilots who receive far more frequent radiation exposure than others.  
The findings: pilots who ate the most dietary antioxidants suffered the least amount of DNA damage.  However, not by taking supplements, which actually increased damage.
Those consuming a mix of fruits and vegetables such as citrus, nuts, seeds, pumpkins, and peppers did best.  Also green leafy veggies like spinach, ginger root were found to protect against radiation.
Similar results were found in studies of other population groups exposed to high amounts of radiation including survivors of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the nuclear accident at Chernobyl,  hospital x-ray workers, and in Pentagon Cold War experiments.
The radiation protective foods may include herbs garlic, turmeric, goji berries,
mint leaves, oregano and especially tea from Lemon balm.
So when taking those frequent long distance trips,  take some kale chips and wash it down with lemon balm tea; then dine on a green veggie salad with herb dressing with fruit for dessert!
Paul Hudson

See Limaye MR, Severence H. Pandora's Boxes: questions unleased in airport scanner debate. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2011; 111(2):87-8, 119. 
Yong LC, et al, High Dietary antioxidants intakes are associated with decreased chromosome translocation frequency in airline pilots. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009; 90(5):1402-10.
Friedberg W et al, Radiation exposure during air travel: Guidance provided by the FAA for air carrier crews. Health Phys. 2000; 79(5):591-5.
Sauvaget  C et al. Dietary factors and cancer mortality among atomic bomb survivers. Mutat Res. 2004:551(1-2):145-52.
Kordysh EA et al. Dietary and clastogenic factors in children...contaminated by Chernobyl accident. Arch Environ Health. 2001; 56(4):320-6.
Arora R, et al, Radioprotection by plant products, Phytother Res. 2005:19(1):1-22.
See Gen. Greger, Michael with Gene Stone, How Not To Die, Flatiron Books, 2015, p. 241-3

Seat Size Amendment Proposed, Then Shot Down 

The below video clip and press release shows last week's debate on a bill to regulate seat size that was voted down by the House Transportation Committee.

It was a close vote, with both Chairman Shuster and Ranking Member DeFazio in opposition. 
However, even though Rep. Defazio spoke against the seat-space bill, he later voted for it, together with all the other committee Democrats and one Republican.

This is the first FlyersRights passenger rights proposal to be introduced thus far. 

Take a look at the Congressional voting list below to know who is against even the most mild effort the rein in airlines' aggressive shrinkage of passenger space.  

February 11, 2016
Congressman Cohen Disappointed By Vote Against Safety of Airline Passengers 
[WASHINGTON, DC] - Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Aviation, today offered his Seat Egress in Air Travel (SEAT) Act (H.R. 4490) as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting. The amendment, which would have required the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to establish a minimum seat size and minimum distance between rows of seats for the safety and health of passengers, was defeated by a vote of 26-33.
"I am disappointed," said Congressman Cohen. "This was a vote against the safety and health of airline passengers. The FAA requires that planes be capable of rapid evacuation in case of emergency, yet they haven't conducted emergency evacuation tests on all of today's smaller seats. That's unacceptable.  It's time for the FAA to take action. I will continue to work with my colleagues to make sure the safety and health of passengers comes before airline profits, and hope to have the opportunity to offer this amendment again when the bill comes to the floor of the House."

A video debate on Rep. Cohen's amendment at the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Congressman Cohen played a clip during his remarks of a television commercial that aired during last week's Super Bowl broadcast to demonstrate the issue of small seat sizes.
Rep. Cohen played a clip during his remarks of a television commercial that aired during last week's Super Bowl broadcast to demonstrate the issue of small seat sizes.
Get to know these members better - check out their webpage: 

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Getting on a Plane? 
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Saturday, February 13, 2016

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It's All About Authority
Will Passengers Win The Fight In A New FAA Reauthorization Bill?

February 10, 2016

Every few years, Congress is supposed to authorize legislation to set FAA funding levels and policy priorities (known as "reauthorization"). 

And that time is now.

The FAA Reauthorization bill is set to be marked up by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this Thursday, where additional amendments will be considered.

So far, the bill spends much of its 273 pages dealing with air traffic control reform. This is where, FlyersRights believes, the legislation offers nothing significant to help passengers and could potentially cause much harm.

"It's time to transfer management of Next Gen to NASA," said Paul Hudson, President of "The only US organization with the real expertise and track record in engineering civilian aerospace systems that work. Not to a new untested AMTRAK, controlled by airlines and other special interests."

New ATC technology is expensive so airlines don't want to pay for it - and unsurprisingly, neither do general aviation or corporate jet companies. So the the House FAA Bill would end up putting the burden on passengers, who will no doubt see new fees and taxes.

The United States ATC system is the best in the world, using radar and human controllers. The so-called NextGen system which uses GPS and computers has failed five attempts to introduce it, and has all been abandoned as a failure by the FAA.

Also, passenger representatives are excluded from a new Air-Traffic Control board that would be dominated by airline reps.

Despite all this, some important pro-passenger provisions has made it into the bill, thanks to coordination between passenger advocates and legislators.

A group of congressmembers, led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) slipped in the Families Flying Together Act of 2015. This language would direct the Department of Transportation to establish a policy that a family be seated together during a flight.

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) authored a provision that would allow passengers on domestic flights to recoup their checked baggage fees if the airline does not deliver their luggage in 24 hours.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) announced a Seat Egress in Air Travel (SEAT) Act as an amendment to the bill, establishing minimum seat size standards for the safety and health of airline passengers.

And the Travel Technology Association (Travel Tech) seeks to break up the US airline cartel, affirming that recent airline mergers have left us with only four large domestic carriers, which is bad for the marketplace.

These reforms are echoed by tens of thousands of passengers who have signed and supported FlyersRights' petitions.

The US Presidential and Congressional Elections

Presidential and Congressional elections could have a significant influence on airline passenger rights and interests.
The time is approaching when it should be possible to see which candidates are best or least worst for air travelers.

One problem with all of them is they, as frequent air travelers, receive mega amounts of frequent flyer miles from the airlines; campaign contributions; and jobs and patronage from airports.

More than one nominally consumer friendly member of Congress has told FlyersRights that they are for passenger rights as long as they do not "offend the airlines"! Which of course eliminates 98% of passenger friendly proposals.

FlyersRights this week will file Freedom Of Information Act requests for frequent flyer miles granted to members of Congress.

We are also renewing our call for congress to fly in middle seats in coach class for at least 30 flights this year. This will enable them to get a better understanding of the plight of passengers and to get better acquainted with their constituents.

Candidates for president all fly in private jets and congressional leaders often use government planes. Sometimes they are accompanied by lobbyists and wealthy special interest reps.

Candidates who claim to want to represent the general public should give equal time and access to the public, instead of just wealthy special interests and their close supporters.

Looking at individual candidates, Donald Trump flies in private jets and helicopters, and has previously owned an airline. He also lost key personnel in an helicopter crash.

Senator Cruz hails from Texas where American and Southwest are located. He has no discernible record on air travel issues but generally favors less regulation.

Senator Rubio's staff has met several times with FlyersRights but has not supported any passenger rights legislation since 2012.

Senators Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have not been actively involved in air travel issues.

Paul Hudson

Support FlyersRights!

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.  
Send your comments to the newsletter editor:, or @KendallFlyers, 4411 Bee Ridge Road, 274, Sarasota, FL 34233
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