Daily, social media chronicles an ever-increasing onslaught of complaints, rants and horror stories. Alas, these grievances are mostly justifiable.
It's hard to believe that flying used to be a rather satisfactory event - if not downright enjoyable - even elegant!
Remember? At one time you could stroll through the airport, out the door, onto the tarmac, up the stairs and into the plane, just like Ingrid Bergman in "Casablanca"?
Today, CEOs are intent on cutting everything travelers used to identify with comfort and decency. Food, bag handling, boarding in a reasonable manner - all once taken for granted, and now paid for or done without.
Planes are now packed more than they've been since World War II, when they carried troops. On some airlines you can't even get a cup of water for free , e.g. Aer Lingus.
So, flying is getting bumpier. But so are many other things in life, the airline apologists like to tell us. Grocery items cost more and offer less. Cinemas hike ticket prices and make customers sit through endless pre-show commercials. And employers require more and more from workers, including longer hours and fewer benefits, yet give less in return.
So why should the airlines be any different? And, why do the irritations of airline travel give passengers such air rage? Why is it the airline experience that stirs us so deeply?
'But flying has become so much cheaper!' the airline apologists love to tell us. 'Airfares are down 50% of what they were 30 years ago. W hy can't you appreciate that?'
Fun fact: The greatest number of passengers ever carried by a commercial airliner is 1,088 by an El Al Boeing 747 during Operation Solomon which involved the evacuation of Ethiopian Jews from Ethiopia on 24 May 1991. This figure included two babies born on the flight. Seats were removed to accommodate the maximum number of passengers.
Please don't believe this airfare spin. The facts are the exact opposite.
All airfares used to include plenty of services, were refundable, and included a far roomier seat.
Last year US airlines raked in more than $18 billion in junk fees - that used to be included in the price of a ticket: bag fees, early boarding fees, change fees, and so on.
Columbia Law professor and New Yorker contributor Tim Wu points out that bad, no-frills service is the cornerstone of the airlines' new paradigm. "Here's the thing: in order for fees to work, there needs be something worth paying to avoid," Wu writes. "That necessitates, at some level, a strategy that can be described as 'calculated misery.' Basic service, without fees, must be sufficiently degraded in order to make people want to pay to escape it. And that's where the suffering begins."
When FlyersRights rebukes this, the typical airline reply about deteriorating conditions in the back is: Then you should pay for it and sit up front! Which is a reminiscent of a 'Let them eat cake' response.
Bang up job, boys. But we can still taste that once-free water.
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.