For Immediate Release:
Contact: Gil Meneses – 202-445.1570

Coalition for Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights Applauds Congressman Mike Thompson for Introducing Bill that Would Give Airline Passengers Legal Rights

“We Applaud Congressman Thompson for Taking a Leadership Role in Protecting the Well-being of the Flying Public” – Kate Hanni.

Napa Valley, CA. (March 1, 2007) – The Coalition for Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights issued the following statement from its spokesperson, Kate Hanni, on news that Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) today introduced the Airline Passengers Bill of Rights in the House of Representatives. The bill will give airline passengers legal rights by preventing them from being held indefinitely on planes, ensuring passengers’ needs are met, and helping airlines coordinate with government agencies.

“We applaud Congressman Thompson for introducing the Airline Passengers Bill of Rights in Congress to give passengers legal rights and ensure their well-being.

For far too long, the airlines have put profits ahead of customer service and the basic comfort of the flying public. It is our hope that this bill will give passengers a legal voice when confronted with the horrific ordeal we endured at the hands of American Airlines in Austin, TX and most recently passengers aboard jetBlue in New York City.

Our coalition continues to gather energy and momentum across the halls of Congress and throughout the country. We thank the tens of thousands of supporters that have joined our coalition, have written to their Members of Congress and continue to provide us the vigor and encouragement to move forward.

We encourage Members of Congress to join the efforts of Congressman Thompson, Congressman Oberstar, Senator Boxer and Senator Snowe to ensure the passage of a comprehensive, enforceable Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights that would modernize and improve airline industry standards for customer service.”

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5 comments on “Coalition Applauds Congressman Mike Thompson for Introducing Bill that Would Give Airline Passengers Legal Rights

  • American Airlines 2/15/07 (flight #769)stranded on the tarmac for ten and a half hours. NYC to San Juan. Not one single bit of service was offered. No water. No food. Nada. Zip. Nothing. Can’t carry water on board anymore either. Two members of our party of six have chronic back problems. How to take medication? Loaded service carts in the back of the plane were being reserved for what exactly? The crew hid behind them like they were shields. We would have gladly paid if that was their problem. Inclement weather is American Airlines excuse. They acted like the previous day’s storm was the first one that ever occurred in the history of New York City. We were meat in seat- nothing less. At some point you would think they would have the decency to offer us something. Nope.
    Once we arrived at our destination (9:45 in the evening instead of 10:45 in the morning. We paid three times the amount for these seats as in our previous two years for the same trip and were still in coach.) there was a line thirty deep at the so called “American Airlines help desk.” After watching a number of people screaming at the AA representatives to the point where security was called we left. We figured we had given them enough opportunities to abuse us for one day and seeing as we we no longer locked in and held captive to any of their whims we just grabbed our stuff and got the hell out of there. We missed connecting flights and paid for hotel rooms while having to pay for cabs, food and another hotel room. They could have avoided a lot of hostility by simply offering us the simple dignity of admitting that yes passengers are humans that sometimes they might have needs.
    In fairness to AA I should state we were ‘allowed to disembark’ at about the half way mark. We were told we had one half hour to find food and drink. One half hour in an incredibly crowded and unfamiliar airport. We never did find food but boy did we drink! Once back on board we paid full price for dried out bagels sandwiches.
    There was never any offering of water, a bag of peanuts or any type of apology- and forget about vouchers.
    If there is ever a congressional hearing on this matter I would be glad to add my two cents. And if I have to fly there you can bet it’ll be on Jet Blue.

  • What you are asking the airlines to do will cost them millions of dollars. Those cost will naturally be passed onto you in the form of higher fares. With the airlines making more money these days, don’t be surprised if that turns into better service for the travelling public.
    I was working at the Austin airport that day, and it was wrong to keep you all on that plane for that length of time. From what i heard, AA just plain forgot about your plane sitting out in the “penalty box” There were no open gates that AA could use. All the other carriers had flights on the ground at that time.

  • Did they forget about the other 121 planes that they diverted and left to rot in all of the other airports that evening for American Airlines? Clearly given the number of planes involved this was a management decision. If it were just one plane I could see how they forgot about us. But there were12 to 13 planes in Austin alone, right?

  • THERE IS NO NEED FOR A BILL OF RIGHTS.
    ALL WE PASSENGERS NEED TO DO AFTER BEING ON THE PLANE FOR 2 HOURS IS TO RIOT. DEMAND WE RETURN TO THE TERMINAL AND BE LET OFF.
    IF THEY REFUSE, WE FORCE OPEN THE DOORS AND USE THE EMERGENCY SLIDE.
    THERE ARE TOO MANY OF US TO STOP.
    MORE THAN 2 HOURS CAN BE CONSIDERED FALSE IMPRISONMENT AND WE HAVE A RIGHT TO ESCAPE.

  • MEDIA RELEASE

    March 9, 2007

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    David Polk, Passenger
    (847) 800-1696
    david.polk@gmail.com

    CHICAGO SUN-TIMES RUNS LONGEST-EVER UNRESOLVED “FIXER” CASE

    Forced to Double Pay for Airline Ticket, Passenger Waits One Year Later As Iberia Airlines and British Airways Argue Over Who Owes Full Refund

    CHICAGO – Customer-service guru Stephanie Zimmermann, author of the Chicago Sun-Times “Fixer” column, today announced that the longest-running complaint she has worked on is still only half-resolved. In her March 9 column, Zimmermann outlines one passenger’s year-long problems with Iberia Airlines and British Airways.

    Zimmermann’s article comes in the wake of this week’s BusinessWeek cover story on customer service champions. The magazine shocked readers when it pulled another airline, JetBlue, off of its best of customer service list. JetBlue recently implemented a Customer’s Bill of Rights to avoid future disputes.

    Iberia Airlines and British Airways do not have a Customer Bill of Rights in place. As a result, David Polk, a former study-abroad student from Tufts University near Boston, is still awaiting half of a $400 refund.

    In December 2005, Polk arrived at Barajas International Airport in Madrid to return home to Chicago for the holidays. Upon arrival, he learned that the first leg of his flight, a quick trip to London, would be operated by Iberia Airlines instead of British Airways, as was ticketed. At the gate, he soon discovered that Iberia agents had no idea how to check-in his BA-issued electronic ticket.

    “The Iberia agents could see my name in the computer, and I even showed them my printed out receipt and confirmation number,” Polk said. “They could not figure out how to check me in so they sent me to the BA counter. However, no one showed up for work at BA that day. At that point, facing a potential missed flight, I had to pay almost $400 for a new ticket because of BA’s internal problems and total disorganization. At the time, I was told by customer-service agents in London that I would get a full refund after the flight.”

    Once back in the US, Polk spent six months making weekly calls and sending frequent emails to both Iberia and BA in order to get his promised refund. Iberia and BA blamed each other for the problem, and refused to issue the full refund. At that point, completely fed up and exhausted, Polk emailed “Fixer” columnist Zimmermann, who strives to fix problems for consumers who are getting the customer service runaround.

    Zimmermann spent another several months emailing Iberia, BA and the Oneworld Alliance. Iberia issued a partial refund, claiming that BA owed the rest of the money. BA issued a statement, saying that Iberia was responsible for the rest of the money. Finally, Michael Blunt, Oneworld Alliance’s V.P. of Corporate Communciations said, “Oneworld itself is not in a position to intervene in this issue.” Oneworld Alliance members also include American Airlines, Quantas, Aer Lingus, Cathay Pacific, Finnair and LAN.

    Zimmermann said this story demonstrates “how incredibly irresponsive some big companies are.” Polk hopes that his story will help to build support for a passenger’s bill of rights. “The way that passengers are treated is absurd,” Polk said. “These airlines got away with stealing hundreds of dollars from me through an airline alliance that makes it impossible to hold anyone accountable. And it probably happens every day.”
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    Today’s Chicago Sun-Times “Fixer” Column: http://www.suntimes.com/news/zimmermann/290074,CST-NWS-fixer09.article

    BusinessWeek article on customer service: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_10/b4024001.htm

    For more information or to schedule an interview with David Polk, email david.polk@gmail.com.

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