Are small airline seats a health risk to airline passengers?
Sept. 2016 - A fire broke out in the left engine of the 257-seat Boeing 777.
Before an aircraft is certified for passenger use, the plane maker must demonstrate that a full payload of passengers and crew can evacuate within 90 seconds - but such tests are carried out with volunteers unencumbered by baggage. The BA aircraft at Las Vegas was only half-full, allowing all the passengers and crew to leave within a few minutes despite some exits being unusable because of fire.
We think so. Just as anyone traveling on commercial US airlines knows, passengers are getting bigger, airlines are making seats smaller and knees are getting crushed - unless you pay dearly for an upgrade.
Well, FlyersRights is fighting back against this racket.
A week ago we filed a lawsuit with the United States Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit refuting the only arguments in the FAA opposition brief, that: 1) the FAA lacks jurisdiction to regulate seats and pitch based on health concerns, and 2) the the FAA has secret information showing that shrunken seats and leg room will not affect emergency evacuation.
"The fact that the FAA has had to resort to flawed technical legal arguments and ignored the merits of the rulemaking petition evidence FlyersRights submitted showing safety and health dangers of shrunken seats and pitch, shows the weakness of its position in denying any rulemaking for seat or leg room and refusing a moratorium on further shrinkage." said Paul Hudson, FlyersRights' president.
In recent court papers the FAA indicated seat space was not a concern for the agency. They further said it's none of their business to think about tiny seats on planes.
Oct. 2016 - An American Airlines 767 caught fire at Chicago O'Hare Airport. Passengers evacuated on inflated slides as flames and smoke poured from the aircraft. Escape was delayed by some passengers retrieving bags. No serious injuries reported. The flight was only 70% full. See video taken inside the aircraft. For another take on evacuations see AskThePilot.
FlyersRights is challenging this faulty thinking.
"The fact that the FAA has had to resort to flawed technical legal arguments and ignored the merits of the rulemaking petition evidence FlyersRights submitted showing safety and health dangers of shrunken seats and pitch, shows the weakness of its position in denying any rulemaking for seat or leg room and refusing a moratorium on further shrinkage," stated Hudson.
Making Airports Great Again
Clinton & Trump planes cross paths in Cleveland. Sept 2016
"Our airports are like from a Third World country," said Donald Trump in September during a discussion on American infrastructure.
He was specifically referring to New York's three international airports and Los Angeles International Airport.
A few years earlier, Joe Biden made the same remark, in reference to LaGuardia Airport.
This raises the questions; Should presidential candidates be insulting developing countries by comparing US airports to those of the developing world? Also, how much time has Trump, or his rival Hillary Clinton, spent in commercial airports anyway?
It's laughable to allege to understand the flying public from the comforts of your own personal jet - regardless of political party, and avoid dealing with security checkpoints, time-sinking endless waits and nickel and diming.
Skytrax released their annual ranking of the world's top 100 airports. This year's list puts five airports in developing countries ahead of the top American airport - Denver International, which comes in 28th place.
What makes American airports so bad? Chronic underinvestment in public infrastructure across the country. (Actually, Trump and Clinton agree on the need for much more infrastructure spending, arguing only about who is promising to spend more.)
It looks like my complaining to the flight attendants on Korean Air last year on my trip to Bali about the discomfort of the tilted-flat seats in Business Class worked. They've gone level-flat. Surely solely attributable to my having expressed dissatisfaction. See, it pays to complain! Your vote counts!
I've been a long time supporter of Flyers Rights and have a question for you. I just came back from a trip to Ireland, booked through American but flown round trip from the Los Angeles to Dublin on British Air. I used my FF miles and paid $975 in taxes to BA. Taxes on American are typically about one third that amount but there were no FF seats on American when I booked.
The outbound flights (3 of them) were fine but I missed a connection on the return from London to Los Angeles, the longest leg of the flight. I missed it because there was only one hour and 5 minutes between the flight from Dublin to London and the departure time from London to Los Angeles. I had to go through Passport Control, Customs and Security, all of which took an hour. When I got through and ran to the departure gate for my LA flight, it had just left.
Since there were no more flights available to Los Angeles that evening, they booked me on an American flight the next day, which meant staying in a hotel in Heathrow that night. I took the American flight the next day, which brings me to my question: Am I entitled to a refund on the taxes I paid to BA (approx. $450) for the leg I missed? I have asked American to return those taxes minus the taxes American would be entitled to, but to no avail. They first passed me off to BA for the refund but BA passed me right back to American. I have told American that I didn't think any government agency was entitled to collect taxes on services or goods not received.
Will you please tell me what the policy (if any) is on this? I am grateful for your help.
The Montreal Convention article 19 may give you a basis for delay compensation as the airline should have known that the connection time was too short.
As to a tax refund for a flight never taken, that has been court tested in Massachusetts and passengers lost even where the airline never actually paid the tax to the government.
Not sure how this would turn out in another court in CA or in Europe.
There may also be a possibility of compensation under EU rules buy you would need to consult an EU law firm that specializes in this.
I have seen airlines even unilaterally change bookings of reservations to as little as 45 minutes for connections. I make it a practice to provide at least an hour for domestic and at least 1.5 - 2 hours minimum for connections internationally, as incoming flight delays, customs, security, passport or visa control and/or walking between airport terminals can eat up lots of time. Overall, the fix is that tighter rules are needed to make connection times realistic and to place the expense and burden of missed connection compensation on the airline including refunds of any taxes paid for a flight missed. Sometimes airline warn of close connections at booking, but that is now left up to each airline. Paul Hudson President FlyersRights.org
It makes sense that he would be due a refund for the BA taxes minus the AA taxes as he states, but I have done a bit of research and I cannot find much on this subject. Since this ticket used AA FF miles and AA originally collected the taxes on behalf of BA I would think that AA would be responsible for the refund. If they refuse, this may be a good small claims case.
FlyersRights Hotline Director
The White House and the U.S. Department of Transportation announced today (Oct. 18, 2016) enhanced protections for air travelers to spur competition. Together, the actions announced will help consumers to know how airlines are performing, as well as make sure consumers don't have to pay for services they don't receive, can easily find the best flight options, and have a voice in how airlines are regulated. That will create a more competitive market, with better outcomes for American consumers.
Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings (C70)
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E. W98-312
Washington, DC 20590
Unfortunately this does not do much and only somewhat complies with Existing law.
Overall it's very disappointing. It fails to implement any of the 30 measures called for the Airline Passengers Bill of Rights 2.0 we first presented in 2012. It fails to issue long delayed rules on timely disclosure of ancillary fees, ignores DOTs anticompetitive decisions denying or indefinitely delaying foreign airlines access to US domestic markets in violation of Open Skies Agreements and its granting of numerous antitrust waivers to airline joint ventures, continues the refusal of FAA and DOT to halt dangerous shrinkage of seats and legroom or to set minimum passenger space standards, fails to address 2015 consumer rulemaking petitions to prohibit exorbitant change fees on international flights, or require plain language notice of passenger delay compensation rights.
The DOJ since 2009 has also presided over a consolidation of the US airline industry into 4 airlines controlling 85% of domestic flights leading to reduction in service to most cities and has never stopped any merger or any anti competitive practice that I am aware of.
When I traveled to Paris, Berlin and London last month, I was surprised to see far more airlines, much lower fares, and robust consumer protection and representation, the polar opposite of the US situation. It used to be the reverse, the US had lower fares, better service and more competition. Last summer I also received several calls from foreign journalists covering the Republican and Democratic conventions, expressing astonishment at how bad US domestic air travel has become.
The record of the Obama Administration and Secretary Foxx since 2013 has essentially been a reversion to pro airline industry self regulation and protectionism.
You have only a short time left to reverse this record, but it is still possible.
We recently flew on an AA Airbus from DFW to LGA. The left side of the plane had less space than the right side!!! My husband and I each had aisle seats, and we had to switch because he was so uncomfortable on the left side. Also, the rows were not aligned!
One thing I would not miss from the era of the upper photo is the smell of tobacco which probably permeated everywhere. BTW did you see how wide that aisle is? (- In response to Those Were The Days).
From your August 2, 2016 news letter: "But customer dissatisfaction rewards the airlines. The industry has worked out that the more awful the experience, the more passengers will pay for the most basic services.
Under the guise of "consumer choice," passengers get bilked into spending more for this sham "premium" service."
My wife and I recently returned from a trip from San Francisco to Madrid, Spain and return on American Airlines. Nearly six months prior to departure, I tried to reserve seats on all the flights. For the first leg, from San Francisco to Dallas (DFW), American had blocked every window and aisle seat in regular coach seating. All that showed on their seat map were middle seats. In order to get two seats together, I was forced to pay extra to move to an upgraded section of the aircraft. Just another one of their nasty tricks to get us to pay more.
Also, regarding the article about not wearing glasses in a passport photo, I have worn glasses for seventy years, since I was eight year old, had had a passport since 1954 when I was 15 years old. I have never been allowed to leave my glasses on while the picture was being taken. But I know that today with the "selfie" movement, fewer people get their pictures done by people who know the proper way to take a passport photo. Too bad.
One final note. On our return from Madrid this week, we used Global Entry for the first time. What a breeze entering the USA. While there were several hundred people waiting to have their passports checked manually, we went to the Global entry kiosks where there was about a one minute wait and breezed through. Although my wife did not get a clean entry pass, there was a CBP agent right there to approve her entry. Less than a minute delay. And, of course, the Global Entry pass also gives you TSA Pre-check as well.
Remember: Always opt out of nude body scanners and file a complaint at tsa.gov
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.