Friday, January 27, 2017

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No Overhead

January 25, 2017

"The idea is to give customers a choice in the kind of ticket they want to purchase."  
                                                                                                       - American Airlines press release

"Customers have told us that they want more choice - and Basic Economy delivers just that," Julia Haywood, Executive VP at United said. "By offering low fares while also offering the experience of traveling on our outstanding network, with a variety of onboard amenities and great customer service, we are giving our customers an additional travel option from what United offers today."  

(Shortly after making this statement, Haywood leaves United, after a tenure of only five months.)

"We're providing Delta customers with a thoughtful, well-defined spectrum of options as they make decisions about travel," said Glen Hauenstein, Delta's executive vice president and chief revenue officer.
Delta Air Lines is redefining the products it offers customers to further distinguish the choices available to them. - Delta press release

You see, American, United and Delta say you should be thanking them for all the freedom they're offering you with so many new choices!

Gee, thanks guys. 

Trend That's Sweeping The Industry

Last week the third Domino fell - American announced that it would join its 'competitors', United and Delta, and start selling Basic Economy fares next month.

The terms are basically the same - that is, last to board and not being allowed to use the overhead bins. 

The NYTimes wrote this week that it's business travelers who are really suffering with this new airfare, as companies usually require their staff to use the lowest airfare available for travel.

Taking Economy Class To A New Low

What is Basic Economy? It's a bare-bones ticket that allows no choice in seat assignment, means last to board, no stowing a carry-on bag in the overhead bin and usually no frequent-flier miles.

All three majors allow one small 'personal item' that must go underneath the seat. American and United prohibit use of the overhead bin. However, Delta's current policy allows for one personal item and one complimentary carry-on bag. 

United and American's Basic Economy fares will begin next month, but Delta's is already up and running. It was the first legacy carrier in the US to adopt a Basic Economy fare, in 2012.  

You may be asking, how can they increase income by adding a cheaper ticket tier?  

The airlines boast that they expect to add billions to their annual operating income with Basic Economy fares, because customers often give in, or give up, and just fork over more money to check luggage and to avoid 'misery class'.

Why do we have this sneaking suspicion that the lowest priced ticket isn't actually going to go down? Why do we suspect the cost of the cheapest ticket will remain the same and the cost of all of the others will go up?

Right, this is no discount. it means everyone's normal price is about to go up. So, let's call it what it is; another money grab.

The Labor Day Mattress Sale Approach

What's next? "Would you like to upgrade to WingSeat Premium* Class?"
(*Seat belts free with Premium package. Goggles and bird shield available for additional fee.)

One reader compared it to:

Hamburger: $9
Cheeseburger: $10
Customer: "$1 for a slice of cheese, that's insane!"

Hamburger: $10
Cheeseburger: $10
Customer: "Free cheese!"

But how do they police it? Do they stand guard next to the overhead bin and demand to see your ticket?  What's to stop someone from storing their carry-on in the overhead bin just to stick it to United? 


Just kidding. Here is an exclusive look at how United plans to handle the situation -that other airlines will likely copy:

(if you cannot see the below graphic, please click HERE

A Message from FlyersRights' president:
Getty Images

In his inauguration speech Friday, President Trump said: "We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation."

The US infrastructure has aged, and not kept up with new technology and much of the developed and developing nations, especially in Asian countries like Japan and China. 
No new major airports have been built since 1980. High speed rail technology was pioneered in the US but perfected and built in Europe, Japan and China, not here. 

AMTRAK the federal corporation that operates the only intercity rail service has never been able to implement high speed Service and is so unreliable that it takes longer to travel from NYC to Chicago than it did in the 1890s. Rail service is unavailable from Washington to Miami, and between many other major cities and always slower than travel by road. 
A quarter to a third of flights are late and about 75% of congestion delays originate from  NYC and Chicago. That can only be relieved in the long term by adding two new major airports at least 30 miles from existing airports near these cities. Expansion of existing airports have reached their limits and do nothing to expand air space around existing airports. 
However, the City of Chicago and the NYNJ Port Authority that control the existing high congestion airports have blocked new airport construction to maintain their monopoly revenues, and political patronage. 
Airports around major cities need high speed rail connecting them with each other and the city centers but this does not exist in the US. Existing ground transportation is set up to maximize airport revenues not public convenience or economic efficiency. This means ground transportation time and expense is enormous and often takes longer or even costs more than air fares.  
President Trump is a builder by profession, so he should be able to make air travel better and break up or reform the monopolistic, bureaucratic structures and interests that block any true modernization of US air travel.
- Paul Hudson

Flyers Rights Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) charity to which contributions are tax deductible. 

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

And Justice For None. January 18, 2017

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And Justice For None.
Department of Justice Lets US Airlines Off the Hook

January 18, 2017

Like flying in-formation. When airlines collude as part of a price-fixing conspiracy it leads to millions of passengers being overcharged for flights.
For years the watchdogs at the US justice department have known of alleged price gouging and 'capacity discipline'. 

They knew what was behind the blight of modern air travel: "Major airlines, in tandem, have raised fares, imposed new and higher fees, and reduced service," they conceded.

Eighteen months ago the U.S. Department of Justice opened a probe whether the major US carriers colluded in expansion plans. We said it was time.

The government accused America's leading airline companies, American, Delta, United and Southwest, of a preference for "tacit coordination over full-throated competition"; and possible violation of US Anti-Trust laws.

Airline Collusion: Nothing New, But Very Difficult To Prove

But after over a year of worrying, US airlines can now relax because the US Justice Department is taking a step back from its investigation of collusion, reported Bloomberg last week.

A person familiar with the investigation told Bloomberg that the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigators did not find enough evidence to support a case, and that it is unlikely that the department will file formal action against the airlines.

Most Closely Guarded Secrets 

How is it that despite a protracted investigation into the commercial airline sector, the Justice Department could not find any smoking-gun evidence of collusion it needed?
The DOJ has known of alleged price gouging and 'capacity discipline' for years - but has been unsuccessful in finding cut-and-dried evidence of conspiracy.

Airline insiders and legal analysts said the government's case against the industry was near-impossible to prove - regardless that the feds have known about these airfare schemes for years, but they have not been able to fight back against the lobbyists.

"Airfare decisions normally are among the most closely guarded secrets at airlines," said a 2015 Bloomberg article. 

Looking For The Lie

That is the nature of the beast: collusion is difficult to prove, and the tricky thing about colluders is that they operate in secret. Suspicions and evidence of identical prices are not enough to prove a criminal offence. Securing a cartel conviction requires the Justice Department to submit evidence that proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that there is an agreement between competitors to fix prices.

Another airline strategy involves 'conscious parallelism' - all doing the same thing even though they never explicitly communicate the intention, or communicate at all - like when all the gas stations in a trade area end up selling at the same price. The fact alone tempts the conclusion that conspiracy must exist, but also that there are non-conspiratorial explanations for the phenomenon.

We know the DOJ has no problems or issues successfully pursuing, proving and prosecuting anti-trust violators - such as the infamous lysine cartel (amino acid) from the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Europe, several years ago.
The question becomes: where is the competition? Where are Easyjet and Ryanair to disrupt air travel in America? Nowhere: the country's protectionist policy keeps out foreign airlines. THIS is what needs to change. The difference in airfares between Europe and North America is staggering. You can fly from one European country to another sometimes for the cost of a taxi ride. But every flight in North America costs a small fortune, particularly, short-haul flights.

Flyers Rights Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) charity to which contributions are tax deductible. 

Getting on a Plane? 
Put This Number in Your Phone:
1 (877) Flyers6
1 (877) 359-3776
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Friday, January 13, 2017

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Improving Security At Airports
January 11, 2017

In the aftermath of last week's shooting at
Police arrive at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, FL on January 6, 2017.  The Palm Beach Pos
Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL), where five people were killed, FlyersRights is renewing the call for improved security to protect air travelers. 

This latest attack confirms the fact that air transportation remains a prime target for terrorism and mass murder.

From our press release:

Passengers should be able to count on TSA and local and state law enforcement authorities to protect them. 

The principal lessons from Lockerbie, 9/11 attacks, and the Brussels, Istanbul and now Fort Lauderdale airport massacres are that air transportation continues to be a prime target for terrorism and mass murder.

Airports are now clearly the No. 1 soft target, and are naked and totally unprotected. No act of terrorism and mass murder in history has been thwarted without effective defensive measures in place. has repeatedly called for TSA and Congress to provide for stronger airport security. After a shooting attack at LAX airport in 2013, and again in July 2016 after the Brussels and Istanbul airport massacres, but to date nothing has been done.

On Thursday, Jan. 5, Esteban Santiago showed up at the Anchorage airport. He had a one-way ticket to Florida and checked in at 5:23 p.m. for his flight on Delta Air Lines. 

Santiago arrived at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport Thursday evening more than four hours before his flight to Florida, bringing with him no baggage other than a handgun case. 

It did not create a concern at the airport that he had no carry-on luggage nor bags to check - nor that he had purchased a one-way ticket from Alaska.

Santiago retrieved that case at the international airport in Fort Lauderdale after arriving the next day. He carried it into a nearby men's bathroom, took out his Walther 9mm semiautomatic handgun in a bathroom stall, loaded the gun and stuck it in his waistband. He then left the men's bathroom and shot the first people he encountered.
Santiago fired about 10 to 15 rounds of ammunition starting about 12:56 p.m. Friday at the baggage claim, aiming at his victims' heads. He emptied one magazine and then loaded another.
Now emergency measures must be imposed to prevent more lives from being lost. 

"Those victims at Ft. Lauderdale should not have died, and should certainly not have died in vain," Paul Hudson, president of, said. "Blood on the ground is unfortunately too often the price for government officials to act."

Emergency measures must be imposed to prevent more lives being lost and to stop another paralyzation of the US air transportation system, as occurred after 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

This includes:
  1. Calling out the National Guard for temporary armed airport security.
  2. Installing airport perimeter security to detect weapons and explosives on persons entering major airports.
  3. Banning the carrying of live ammunition in checked baggage.
  4. Increasing canine patrols to detect explosives.
  5. Placing anyone who is deemed a security threat by a law enforcement agency on the TSA Watch or No Fly list, but with due process means for removal from such lists.

Some critics are coming out to say we're wrong - that our proposals are an 'extreme reaction' to a man with mental health issues.

That our emergency measures would not have prevented the shooting at FLL, that the shooter could have walked into any store selling ammunition, picked up a clip and headed to a crowded beach or mall and done exactly the same.
We're not overreacting, and here's why:

Firstly, a visible, ubiquitous armed presence of the National Guard at US airports would cause second thoughts - like airports in Europe.

Second, our focus is on airports and passenger safety at airports - we're not talking about beaches or malls. We're talking about preventing acts of terrorism at airports - not at other places.

FlyersRights has never claimed this was a terrorist act. We are saying that 
transportation continues to be a prime target for terrorism and mass murder. They don't have to be mutually inclusive. You don't have to be associated with a terrorist group to walk into an airport and open fire.

Our intention is 
to protect air travelers from all mass violence.

Airline Carrier Transportation of Firearms:
  • Firearms will be accepted only from a customer who is 18 years of age or older.
  • International firearm regulations vary by destination and transiting country. Contact appropriate consulates or embassies to obtain specific entry requirements applicable to destination(s).
  • Curbside check-in of a firearm is not permitted.
  • The firearm must be packaged in a hard-sided container capable of being locked. The container must be locked and the key or combination must remain in the customer's possession.
  • Handguns must be packed in hard-sided lockable luggage. Baggage containing handguns must be locked at the time of acceptance by United Airlines and the key or combination retained in the passenger's custody.
  • The firearm will be transported in a section of the aircraft that is inaccessible to the customer. Proof of registration is not required.
  • No more than 11 pounds of ammunition may be carried. The ammunition may be packed in the same container as the firearm or in a separate container. Ammunition must be packed in the manufacturer's original package or securely packed in fiber, wood or metal containers. The ammunition inside the container must be protected against shock and secured against movement. The ammunition may be packed in the same container as the firearm or in a separate container. 

Commentary from FlyersRights' president, Paul Hudson:

I recall how aircraft hijacking evolved in the 1960s when there was no aviation security. Planes were hijacked mainly to Cuba eventually nearly weekly at first by dedicated political radicals, then by criminals fugitives and finally by just deranged people. 

Now 50 years later, such incidents are rare due mainly to metal detectors and X-rays of carry on baggage for weapon detection. And when they do occur, as happened recently in flight from Libya to Malta, hijackings without injury are hardly mentioned on the news.  

Instead mass killings have become the norm and airports and other mass gatherings have become the new targets because they garner attention and cause maximum destruction of life and society.

The 9/11 terrorists exploited the flaws and weaknesses in private poorly trained airport  security. Nineteen out of 19 terrorists passed through security and then used small knives and box cutters to hijack four airliners and turn them into weapons of mass destruction killing nearly 3,000 and destroying the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon, costing the US over $100 billion directly and led to two wars
In Afghanistan and Iraq costing over $5 trillion.

Terrorists in 2016 attacked the Brussels and Istanbul airports killing 83 and injuring nearly 600 - costing the countries of Belgium and Turkey billions. 

Paul Hudson

Flyers Rights Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) charity to which contributions are tax deductible. 

Getting on a Plane? 
Put This Number in Your Phone:
1 (877) Flyers6
1 (877) 359-3776
The FlyersRights HOTLINE!

Get get our weekly newsletter in your inbox!, 4411 Bee Ridge Road, 274, Sarasota, FL 34233
Sent by in collaboration with
Constant Contact