As if flying in coach isn't bad enough, the airlines are now trying to squeeze every last drop of blood out of a stone they can get by charging extra for the window and aisle seats.
According to the New York Times, it's getting harder and harder for flyers to avoid it. That is, unless you want to pay.
Ironically, as if any seat in economy is so much 'better' than the other legroom-less choices - the airlines are now considering the window and aisle seats as 'luxury' items and seeking to monetize them.
This comes hard on the heels of the Senate's rejection of regulation of seat sizes, (voting 42-54 to throw out Senator Chuck Schumer's amendment introducing minimum seat sizes and distances between airline seats). The airlines are now heady with victory and piling on fees.
The dreaded middle seat - tight space, no view and no exit
The airlines now want to make you pay to avoid what they think is the worst seat on the plane, the middle-seat in basic economy class.
So, all seats are shrinking but you'll be charged more - and once the seat is so small only half of your posterior will fit in it, they'll require you to buy two seats, as well as an extra fee for the window or aisle.
This new fee is yet another indication that the airlines are not translating savings from a year's decline in fuel prices into lower ticket prices.
Southwest Follows The Leader
In a disappointing show of follow-the-leader, the once-passenger-friendly Southwest is jumping on the bandwagon.
Southwest, which doesn't assign seats, recently increased the price of its early boarding by 20 percent.
It now charges passengers $15 each way to board the plane first - which is supposed to improve your chances of an aisle or window during the seat scramble. Why not just charge for checked bags and stop this pussyfooting around with seats?
Southwest's early check-in charge lets you get a boarding number online 36 hours before the flight instead of 24. Why not 48 hours, as most people are more likely to be awake then, at a time corresponding to their flights? If you have a 2 PM flight, why should you have to be online at 2 AM to get your paid-for advantage?
Consumers have little choice but to accept the hike because the major airlines control more than 85 percent of the US travel market, following multiple high-profile mergers.
The New York Times reports that a number of travelers have resorted to bribing passengers to swap seats with drinks, or even buying two seats to avoid being squashed next to someone.
Airlines speak out against 'unacceptable' TSA lines
April 19, 2016
After years of passenger suffering in hours-long queues at airport security checkpoints, the airlines are finally speaking up for their customers.
American Airlines fired the first shot last week when they blamed the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for unacceptable airport delays.
Now more airlines are joining the chorus of criticism against TSA for security delays plaguing airports across the country.
"The lines at TSA checkpoints nationwide have become unacceptable," said Ross Feinstein, an American Airlines spokesman.
"We all want security at airports, but TSA has an obligation to be properly staffed to handle the traffic. Currently, they are well understaffed, and there doesn't seem to be any plans in place to address the shortage."
Did you miss your flight? You aren't alone
The Chicago Tribune reported that 1,000 American Airlines passengers missed flights at O'Hare International Airport in March because of long security lines.
American says 6,800 of their customers missed their flights during spring break this year due to long TSA lines.
Travelers have suffered long waits at airport security checkpoints in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and other cities, up to two hours in some places. Credit, Arina P Habich,Shutterstock.com
Also, the director of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport threatened to replace TSA personnel with private security contractors, as did Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Is this any way to run an airport?
Between airline delays and nonexistent services, flying can seem like the modern day version of maritime steerage.
And what's made things worse are the long lines of rumpled and beaten-down travelers at security checkpoints, dumping their change into plastic tubs and submissively shuffling along in stocking feet.
This is not merely an inconvenience but also a security risk, experts say.
Last month's terrorist attacks in Brussels highlighted the dangers that can be wrought on an airport without an attacker even crossing through the security lines.
Even before the attack, security experts had warned about the risks of the snaking lines at checkpoints and ticket counters - known as the vulnerable "soft side" of the airport.
Attached is my letter to Sen. Rubio expressing my outrage over his vote on the amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill. I was surprised he finally showed up to even vote. I'll be glad when he is gone. FYI. Thanks.
Dear Mr. Hudson:
I came across your name on the internet. You might not have the time or interest to respond to me, but I figured I try to write you anyway.
My situation is the following, before any of the current turmoil, I bought 3 tickets for my sister's family to fly from Hungary to Los Angeles through Istanbul by Turkish Airlines. The tickets are for July 2016; thus, the trip has not happened yet. I contacted the airlines and requested a re-routing due to the current political unrest in Turkey, the terrorist bombings in Istanbul and Ankara, and the State Department's recent action to evacuate Americans. The airline has not responded to my request. Is there any law or Passengers Bill of Rights that I could quote when I am dealing with their legal department? What are the passenger's rights when it comes to this situation?
I would greatly appreciate any advice that you could share with me!
Dear Ms Gagnor,
You pose an interesting question on an important issue: what can a traveler do to avoid conflict zones when traveling by air.
As terrorism and armed conflicts have multiplied so have the threats to airline passengers, most recently the bombing of a tourist laden jet over Egypt, the shoot down of an airliner over the Eastern Ukraine killing all on board, and the terrorist bombing attacks at the Brussels Airport and train stations. Turkey borders on Syria, and has had so many bombings and threats against Westerners and tourist sites in Istanbul that the US State Department has issued travel warnings and evacuated all but essential personnel from its facilities in Turkey.
Flyersrights.org has called on aviation authorities and the airlines to post and advise passengers of flights that go over conflict zones so passengers can decide for themselves whether they want to take such flights . In general they have declined to act.
Airlines should accommodate passengers to change their reservations without penalty to avoid areas that have been deemed unsafe for US travelers and it may potentially be deemed an unfair practice or unreasonable fee for an airline to impose a change or cancellation fee in such circumstances.
Flyersrights.org filed a Rulemaking petition still pending to cap change fees at $100 on international flights. However there is no specific US rule.
Our checking indicates that flights on this airline to LAX from Budapest go through Istanbul so you may have to cancel and rebook on another airline.
Suggest you first contact these people listed to see what accommodation the airline will make and if that is not satisfactory you can file a complaint with the DOT and US Dept of State Office for travel advisories and Consular Affairs for an unfair practice or unreasonable practice.
I'll just say that in the four times since 1999 that I've been to Turkey thru Ataturk airport in Istanbul, I've felt safer there, where there are visibly armed police and military in the entrance areas, than I ever have at any US airport. If you don't leave the airport between flights you should have nothing to worry about. You're probably in much more danger driving to LAX.
The travel warning is for southeast Turkey, which is about the same distance from Istanbul as Budapest.
FlyersRights supporter and volunteer
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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.