For Immediate Release: July 10, 2007
Kate Hanni: Spokeswoman CAPBOR (707)337-0328

Coalition for Airline Passenger’s Bill of Rights Wants Action not Rhetoric from Members of Congress

Coalition Urges Key Members to Keep their Promise to the Flying Public – Give Airline Passengers Legal Rights

Napa Valley, CA (July 9. 2007) – The Coalition for Passengers Bill of Rights (CAPBOR), the fastest growing passengers’ coalition in the country, issues the following statement from its Founder and Executive Director, Kate Hanni.

“The flying public continues to fall victim to a vast rise in episodes of strandings and horrific experiences of being held against their will on major commercial airlines. From the strandings in late December of 2006, which led to the formation of our coalition to the continued and systematic entrapment of tens of thousands passengers for countless hours over the last 7 months, the complete and utter failure of commercial airlines to provide even the most basic levels of customer service to passengers continue to ignite shock and anger. As we have stated too many times in the past, enough is enough – the flying public deserves better from the airlines.

Congress has also joined our efforts. The House and Senate have included language in recent bills that are aimed at protecting the flying public from the traumatic situations that we are all too familiar with.
We commend the efforts of Senator Boxer, Senator Snowe & Senator Lautenberg. In the house of Representatives Mike Thompson has shown tremendous leadership and a great sense of commitment to passengers’ rights.
Although these actions are an important step in the right direction, Congressional rhetoric alone will not suffice. We need more members of Congress to weigh in on this important legislation and make sure the flying public remains on the forefront of the Congressional agenda. We cannot and should not be forgotten.

Given the importance of our mission to ensure that no other passengers are ever stranded, trapped or abandoned, we call on every member of the Senate and House Transportation Committee and their Honorable Chairs to keep their word and honor their commitments. Furthermore, we urge all Members of Congress to join our efforts and protect the flying public.”

We also need to call to action consumers to call on their members of Congress and say “enough is enough”. “We are tired of the long hot travel season from hell and we want passengers rights legislation that is meaningful, not empty promises”. Call 202-224-3121 for your member of Congress today and go to http://www.flyersrights.com/ and sign our petition to get involved and fight for your rights.

The Coalition for an Airline Passenger’s Bill of Rights’ efforts have well paid off since the beginning of its mission. The number of voices that have joined the coalition’s efforts in support of an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights continues to grow at a feverish pace. We now proudly count on the support of 16,000 members, which believes as we do that the commercial airlines have an obligation to provide passengers with basic rights and legal recourse with strong protections.

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Coalition for an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights is the largest grassroots airline passengers’ rights organization in the country with 16,068 members to date. We also include ACAP, USPIRG, Consumer Federation of America and Public Citizen as Consumer Organizations. In addition we have been joined by the United Flight Attendants and United Airline Pilots Association in support of our Legislation as we proposed it. Our Coalition discovered that the DOT wasn’t counting Diverted or Cancelled Flights for Time on the Tarmac and we have initiated a 6 month report card for the airlines with the worst Strandings record and worst customer service issues.

14 comments on “Coalition calls on Congress to Stop the Rhetoric and Protect Passengers' Rights

  • Kate,
    While it has never happened to me, I’ve always vowed that if I was stranded on the tarmac I would call 911 and report a hostage situation and demand police intervention. Has this been done yet and if so what happened to the passenger. To me, this is the only reasonable course of action available at present.

  • It is amazing that so many complain about flying yet so many of you still fly. I work for a major airline and wonder if we can get a “Passenger bill of Compliance and Courtesy” passed. It is unbelievable how today’s traveler treats each other and airline employees.

  • I fly hundreds of thousands of miles each year for my job. I do not have a choice. I am always considerate to the flight attendants, who have a very difficult job. However, the employees who work for the old “legacy carriers” (United, American, Delta) treat their passengers like inconveniences, and the airlines do the same — taking away pillows etc even on long-haul flights. While some passengers are terrible, its the airline employees who set the tone…think back to school…There were the good teachers that made sure even the “bad kids” in class behaved. But that didn’t mean they were nasty to everyone.

    This is a great movement and I hope that we get a Passenger Bill of Rights, not gutted, soon!!!

  • Thank you for your efforts. My mother and I were stranded for five hours on an American Airlines flight out of SFO due to a storm in Chicago. The flight attendants were rude from the beginning, only serving drinks to first class, and at first refusing to give me my vegetarian lunch bag. When they finally found it, the male flight attendant literally threw it at me. By the time they released us, the best alternative flights were gone. We had to wait another five hours and lost a day of our vacation. AA was completely unapologetic about the delay, and in fact, the customer service representative wrote me a very nasty letter when I questioned the boilerplate response I received to my first letter.

  • amazing how you censored my comment about following 3 simple rules …. whats the matter …. truth hurts ….

  • I just missed an Alaskan Cruise because of delayed flights. My cruise was to leave Seattle on 21 July at 4:00 PM. My fight on Delta was to leave West Palm Beach at 12:42 PM on July 20, connect with a flight in Atlanta and get me to Seattle at 6:45PM on July 20th. I went from Atlanta to Dulles to St. Louis to try to get to Seattle and never made the cruise, using Delta, United and American. All had delayed departures resulting in missed connecting flights. A loss to me of $1,000.00 not including my time and frustrations. My sister, a cancer survivor, was joining me in Seattle for the cruise. She made it – I didn’t.

  • It will be nice to see a passenger bill of rights that is realistic. There is no way congress is going to approve making airlines liable for 150% of ticket value for a cancellation or postponements without a caveat for weather. that wouldn’t be fair and plenty of legal clauses allow a company to avoid liability based on acts of G-d.

    There really should be a better way to track luggage and the passenger really shouldn’t have to go to some website to find out if their bag will be sold. Congress however is not going to allow market value replacement of items in the bag. You know it is going to be a flat value because otherwise people will be filing claims swearing their grandmother’s priceless silver was in the lost bag.

    These are things the writer(s) of this bill could easily foresee. it wastes all of our time and our signatures to sign something that is really not practical.

    As far as some of the other items in the bill, the airlines should definitely step up to the plate. they are wholly under their control. Good customer service, maintaining open communication with passengers, and helping disabled or otherwise compromised passengers is stuff they can and should manage. Simultaneously, however, passengers need to behave. I have seen some of the most horrible behavior coming from enraged passengers and it is inexcusable. you get what you give and as long as they hold the gold, they make the rules. beyond that though, you are adults. the airlines shouldn’t have to twist your arm with the threat of not helping you to get you to behave.

    finally, none of this effort will change anything if the FAA is not addressed. a lot of what happens at the airport is due to FAA regulations. you sit on planes for hours because the FAA has rules about queuing up planes for take-off (certain protocols must be followed or an airline will be fined, technically anyway). thus part of the reluctance of airlines with letting you off the plane. I have been stuck on a tiny little embraer jet for 6 hours in Newark. trust me, i know what it is like. but if getting off that plane meant the FAA would not let us take off at all, i’m ok with staying on the plane (provided toilets don’t overflow and food and drink are available).

    I have had more planes cancelled on me than I care to remember and I have driven home for 8 hours from Newark knowing fully well I could get there faster than waiting for the next plane. i have done that at least 5 times now since April. But each and every time I have had to do that it was bad weather (or a combination of bad weather, sick employees/timed out employees or maintenance issues). I don’t have a single complaint against those airline carriers for those cancelled flights beyond the fact that it is hell getting my luggage out of Newark’s system (they quote you 3 hours just to find your bag).

    anyway, educate yourself on the issues. find out what is the airlines responsibility and what is not. be the informed consumer. ask your congressmen and senators to fix some of the problems with the FAA and flight scheduling (to me, this is the real problem). spend your money with those who treat you with respect and tell them when you get great service. I have certainly seen airline staff who went well beyond the call of duty for a passenger. they deserve your praise.

    reword this passenger bill of rights to make sense and i will happily sign it.

  • It is unfortunate, but some passengers feel they must “match” the offensive and aggressive tone of the airline employees in order to get any level of customer service. My mother taught me “you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”… so I try and behave nicely toward stressed out airline workers… but I notice that I get ignored and abused, while those who raise a stink get to the front of the line. There is no incentive for airline employees to be nice to customers, earn repeat business, or provide a “service”. Why not? Because they themselves are much like abused spouses, held hostage by greedy employers, underpaid, and overworked.

    The employees are caught up, with the customers, in the culture of violence, abuse, disregard, and hatred that is the intentional, well orchestrated, well executed business plan of the CEO’s and senior management whose job is to: (1) Maximize personal bonuses and (2) Maximize “shareholder value” (especially of their illegally traded options).

    Board of Directors should cut the CEO’s bonuses; Congress should stop the federal subsidies and corporate welfare; employees should be given a decent wage and their numbers should be increased (for saftey and service); Then, and only then, allow free market forces to work.

    Honorable men and women of character would not remain in senior management positions, or even be employed by, this abusive industry. Those who remain are either violating the public’s trust and interests, or victims themselves.

  • Anonymous post #2..Given the scope of your post, I will go with the assumption that you are an airline employee.

    Some of us have no alternative BUT to fly. I have been an air passenger for almost forty years now, and I have NEVER seen the level of service as bad as it is now. Additionally, I given the fact that food is no longer provided on many flights, that just adds fuel to the fire.

    Just because we are under “your control”, the airlines have no right to treat stranded passengers like cattle, better yet prisoners, especially when the delay is on the carrier.

    I will grant you that passengers have an obligation to treat each other and airline personnel with respect as well. No matter how bad a situation I was in during air travel, I have never, ever mistreated an airline employee. Frankly, I do not envy you because I know there are some very rude and crude people who travel and project their ilk on you when things go wrong.

    I hope this bill of rights does pass, because it’s long overdue.

  • Flight attendants still unsung heroes

    When it comes to safety, air crews are your first line of defense

    By Charles Leocha
    Travel columnist
    Tripso.com
    Updated: 4:55 p.m. MT Sept 10, 2007

    The war on terror continues, and yet few remember that the first
    casualties were flight attendants. In the six years since 9/11, there
    have been many ceremonies and many remembrances for those who died in
    that day’s tragic events. Police officers, firefighters and other
    first responders gather every year with political bigwigs on stages
    across America. Sadly, flight attendants are almost never included.

    That’s a shame. I’ve said so on every anniversary of the September
    attacks, and I say so again this year.

    Airline flight attendants are unsung heroes in this country’s “war on
    terrorism.” Recent events demonstrate that this is true now more than
    ever. The efforts to attack us have not abated, but they have been
    thwarted by better intelligence and higher levels of security. For
    example, when terrorists came up with new ways to mix explosives with
    liquids last year, the Department of Homeland Security banned liquids
    aboard the nation’s aircraft. Once again, flight attendants found
    themselves on the front line of a war whose battles are constantly
    shifting while ever exposing them to danger.

    Though experts cannot predict when there will be another terrorist
    attack, they can all agree that one will come. New plans are
    certainly being tested to attack our transportation systems. The
    stress on our airline systems has increased and will only get worse.
    And yet flight attendants continue to report to work every day, ready
    to do what they can to keep us safe. I hope the traveling public does
    not take them for granted.

    Every time a plane takes off, every time a traveler stands up and
    walks toward the cockpit, and every time a passenger ducks behind his
    seat to dig through carry-on luggage, flight attendants go on high
    alert.

    Six years ago, immediately after the terrorist attacks on the World
    Trade Center and the Pentagon, the media was filled with stories
    about “real heroes” — rescuers, police and firefighters who risked
    their lives to save workers in those buildings. Those brave emergency
    workers were racing up stairs into harm’s way while the office
    workers were filing down the stairs away from danger as quickly as
    possible. The firefighters, EMTs and police deserve every accolade
    they receive.

    Now, let’s think about something. Firefighters and police officers
    are trained for danger. When they arrive at the scene of an incident,
    they can see the broad outlines of what they are facing. They are
    skilled in protecting us. They do it every day.

    But what about flight attendants?

    Flight attendants face potential danger every time they go to work,
    too. Where once their main purpose was to see to in-flight comforts
    and provide knowledgeable assistance in case of an emergency landing,
    their new job is much more nerve-racking. Worse, it is almost always
    taken for granted.

    What once was an airborne world of giddy tourists and grumpy
    businessmen is now a war zone. Trouble — perhaps deadly trouble —
    could break out in the cabin at any time. Maybe not today. Maybe not
    tomorrow. But perhaps someday.

    New terrorist dangers are unknown. So unknown, in fact, that the
    Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Aviation Administration,
    and other government organizations still cannot predict where, when
    or how an attack will take place. While passengers grumble about the
    inconvenience of waiting in long security lines, taking off our
    shoes, putting liquids in checked baggage, and having our luggage and
    bodies probed, most of us have decided to fly anyway — at least to
    places that are important to us. We have that choice. Flight
    attendants don’t. If they want to continue being paid, they have to
    go to work.

    The same is true of pilots, of course. But pilots are now barricaded
    inside their cockpits. Some have been given stun guns and others have
    been trained to carry firearms. But what are flight attendants
    getting?

    Not much. Before they lock themselves in the cockpit, captains now
    basically tell the flight attendants that they will have to fend for
    themselves. They don’t have much choice — most everyone agrees that
    the cockpit door must stay locked.

    Yes, some airlines now train flight attendants in the basics of self-
    defense: skills like coordinating with other flight attendants,
    maintaining distance, assuming a protective body position, and
    dealing with unruly passengers. Some airlines even offer advanced
    programs — on a voluntary basis — but the Transportation Security
    Administration (TSA) still hasn’t designed a system for evaluating
    this training and, worse, flight attendants have a hard time getting
    time off to attend.

    As for public recognition, there’s been almost none. Instead, what
    flight attendants have seen since I first wrote this story six years
    ago is a continuing series of layoffs, downsizings and reductions in
    pay.

    Are our memories so short?

    Flight attendants were the most consistent source of information on
    9/11 when, at the risk of their lives, they phoned airline operations
    personnel to let them know about the hijackings; they even provided
    seat numbers and descriptions of the hijackers. Flight attendants
    were most certainly involved with the in-cabin attack on the
    terrorists aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in the
    fields of Pennsylvania instead of into a building on Pennsylvania
    Avenue.

    Later, in one of the few instances of terrorism thwarted in the act,
    a diminutive flight attendant physically prevented a fanatic from
    lighting a fuse to a shoe-bomb that would have downed American
    Airlines Flight 63 in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

    So, let’s get our priorities straight.

    Baggage screeners earn between $25,000 and $38,000 a year. TSA
    supervisors earn $44,400 to $68,800 a year. Federal air marshals make
    between $36,000 and $84,000 a year. These workers receive all the
    standard government perks of medical care, vacations and insurance.
    Meanwhile, flight attendants, the airlines’ real frontline troops,
    receive starting salaries of $18,000 a year, or less, and don’t have
    a prayer of seeing $30,000 for at least three years. Vacation time in
    those years is meager, while time “on reserve” (waiting around in
    case another flight attendant is sick or gets stuck in traffic) seems
    to be endless.

    To add insult to paltry pay, over the past three years many flight
    attendants have had their retirement programs and pensions stripped
    from them by their struggling airlines.

    For years, we have heard the flight attendant mantra: “We are here
    for your safety.” Now those words are truer than ever. And safety,
    today, means far more than helping with oxygen masks, securing the
    overhead compartments, checking seat belts and opening emergency
    doors.

    Let’s face it: Federal air marshals are not on most flights. While
    the plane is in the air, flight attendants are our first line of
    defense. They may be serving peanuts, pretzels and drinks, but they
    are constantly on watch and alert from the time they check IDs at the
    boarding gate until touchdown at the final destination.

    Today’s flight attendants face what amounts to nonstop battle stress
    from an unidentified, furtive and unpredictable enemy.

    I, for one, thank them for their service. All of us who fly should
    thank them as well.

    © 2007 MSNBC Interactive
    URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20644141/

  • A U.S. citizen, I was a passenger on Air France flight 050 Paris-Chicago on 23 August 2007, scheduled to land at 3:20 pm. A record-breaking storm hit the area at that time and after being instructed to circle for some time the flight was diverted to the nearest airport, in Milwaukee, to refuel. We were still unable to depart for O’Hare airport when the pilot reached his legal limit of flying time. Milwaukee not being an international airport, we were forced to wait inside the plane for 7 hours until Customs and Immigration personnel arrived at the airport. I should add that the nightmare was compounded by an air-conditioning breakdown and the refusal of airport authorities to provide food and drinks until after we had been parked in the plane for 6 hours, at which point some cartons of Dr. Pepper and mini-bags of pretzels were finally brought aboard. (This being due in no small measure to the presence of an American journalist on the flight who alerted the Milwaukee media to our plight.) More than 250 people, including a large number of infants and children, were thus subjected to the sort of “cruel and unusual punishment” not worthy of the United States of America.

  • To Yvonne:

    Yes other companies get some limitation of liability for things which are “acts of G-d” but it’s not that simple. For one these companies aren’t all in the business of moving people through the skies. Most “weather delays” at airports aren’t even direct consequences of bad weather. It’s at least equally often that bad weather somewhere across the country 12 hours earlier got one flight off schedule and they never had the resources to make up for it. When the unexpected is an expected part of your business on a daily basis then you should be expected to make reasonable efforts to make preparations. It’s like FedEx saving money by not buying windshield wipers and “G-d” kept them from being able to deliver packages because it was raining.. tough luck. Weather can prevent airplanes from taking off but G-d doesn’t prevent airlines from having a few backup airplanes and crew available when they KNOW they will be needed almost every day, and G-d doesn’t make them leave you stranded without clothes in some city without your luggage because the flight you were supposed to connect to took off before you ever started your trip and they didn’t want to tell you or to bother to at least get you your luggage so you could change in the hotel they didn’t pay for. No, US-AIR did that, not G-d.

  • I agree with the 2nd comment. I would support a Passenger bill of rights if a Passenger bill of Compliance and Courtesy was approved at the same time. Why is it that people can not comply with 3 simple rules:

    1. Stow your luggage properly
    2. Turn of the cell phone
    3. Stay seated when the seat belt sign is on.

    3 simple rules that noone complys with.

    AND these are not flight attendant rules …. these are FAA MANDATED rules that everyone seems to think dont apply to them.

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