You’ve known for years that airlines love to obfuscate.

Now they are really going out of their way to shield easy airfare comparisons, says Inc.com. Especially when it comes to junk fee add ons -you know, the nickel-and-diming that goes into the modern airline fare experience.

The airlines love to block consumers from seeing complete airline schedule and fare information. So, when other online travel sites put together itineraries that are cheaper for passengers, using flights from non-aligned, lower-cost airlines, the big carriers threaten to remove their inventory from that online booking site.Inc.com explains that when you go to sites like Kayak or Expedia, that appear to show all the available fares on your route — the airlines will block its flights from source of the information- where the booking site’s metasearch obtained it.

Moreover, airlines try to do everything they can to hide any additional fees that might be payable. Baggage fees, for example.”Most tickets are now sold by online web sites and travel agents, and those sites are mostly owned or controlled by Expedia or Priceline,” said Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.

“This includes Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotwire, Kayak, Cheapflights, Booking.com, Momondo. The online travel interests are in a battle with airlines over the control of ticket sales.”

Hell Is Other People: The Newest  1st Class Perk Is Not Seeing Another Human Onboard  

As economy class devolves into an overcrowded sardine tin – naturally, up front in first class, the opposite is true. Isolation has become is the new luxury, where you can spend your entire flight without interacting or seeing another human being.

Shunning his peers, the CEO of Southwest, Gary Kelly was caught flying like the 99%.
Kelly makes north of $6 million a year, yet- like everyone else who flies Southwest -was sitting in coach on his own “corporate jet.” (Southwest has no first class.)
“He didn’t priority board. He didn’t take a seat upgrade. He waited like everyone else, and he sat in the back,” said two Dallas Morning News photographers onboard.

Uber’s ‘Flying Car’ Project

The latest news on this venture is that NASA has signed an  xxx greement with Uber to help develop an air-traffic-control system for their flying-car project – which goes by the name Uber Elevate or UberAir. Uber said it hopes to begin flying its aerial taxis – basically, small planes with wing mounted propellers that will take off and land vertically, on the roofs of buildings – by 2020.

The company has announced three cities as the sites of this early push: Los Angeles, Dallas and Dubai.

Citing toxic smog that one official said has turned India’s capital city into a “gas chamber,” United Airlines made headlines by cancelling flights to New Delhi until the air gets better.

Although, we question if the reality is not so much United caring about the health of passengers and employees, but more about profits.  Exhibit A:

Delhi is one of the busiest airports in that region and in Nov-Dec dense fog is a common phenomenon. It’s often so thick that visibility falls below one meter on some nights.

Most international flights are delayed for hours until visibility improves. Often flights have to circle for a half an hour or more before landing – if they’re not diverted to Jaipur or other cities which requires the airline to arrange alternate transport.

So instead, an airline can save money by cancelling flights and creating more demand, then raising prices. During the winter holidays this India route is very busy, which, in-turn helps United’s margins.

ATC UPDATE

Air Traffic Control privatization is still pending in Congress, (known as the FAIRR act).

FlyersRights.org is on record as opposed and favors Democrat proposals to beef up FAA modernization. This may depend on a few Democrats who are leaning for or undecided.

Turning over control of the skies to a private monopoly corporation (like AMTRAC) with the power to tax passengers, immune from Congressional oversight and budget control would be a step backward.

It would be very unlikely to reduce flight delays. Most  delays are due to airlines’ lack of equipment or crew -not weather or air traffic control.

Modernization of air traffic control is largely being held up by airlines refusal to spend the money to supply their planes with new equipment, not FAA bureaucracy.

The current bill also excludes any passenger representation on the governing board, and gives control to the airline industry, private aircraft and corporate jet interests.

This bill is opposed by most consumer groups, most smaller airport and municipalities, most Democrats, most Senators, and some Conservative Republicans, labor unions (except the air traffic control union which gave it tentative support), air safety experts.  It is supported by airlines, the White House and some big airport interests.

The ‘undecideds’ are- Alma Adams (NC), Ami Bera (CA), Beto O’Rourke (TX), Bradley, Bradley Scheider (IL), Darren Soto (FL), Donald Norcross (NJ), Eric Swalwell (CA), Felemon Vela (TX), Gregory Meeks (NY), Hakeem Jefferies (NY), Henry Cuellar (TX), Jim Cooper (TN), Jim Costa (CA), Joaquin Castro (TX), Joe Crowley (NY), John K. Delaney (MD), John Larsen (CT), Luis Correa (CA), Peter Aguillar (CA), Raja Krishnamooorthi (IL), Robert Brady (PA), Scott Peters (CA), Stephanie Murphy (FL), Stephen Lynch (MA), Tulsi Gabbard (HI), Vincente Gonzalez (TX). Leaning for privatization: Alcee Hastings (FL), Seth Moulton (MA), Josh Gottheimer (NJ), Tim Ryan (OH).

Best way to make your Congress rep aware of your view:  Call him or her at 202-224-3121, or write a letter, or visit his/her office.

Paul Hudson, President
Flyersrights.org
Member, FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee
800-662-1859   
paul@flyersrights.org

YOUR LETTERS!

Dear FlyersRights:
Can you help with the below?
Air France says they can do nothing about this as it is at the sole discretion of JustFly. Moreover, JustFly wants to charge me $300 for canceling Air France plus an additional $150 for their cancellation. Meanwhile, I can no longer travel to Lebanon and must cancel or risk my well-being. Additionally, I have also filed a complaint with Chase Bank (credit card I used to purchase the ticket).
Please help.
JS
To: support@JustFly.com

Hello –

I was just on the phone with a JustFly representative named, “Michelle.” She just hung up the phone on me without resolving my issue. This is the worst customer service I have ever experienced and not to mention it was filled with fraudulent and dubiously misleading statements. The product I purchased (See below) on September 16, 2017 is no longer the same product today as result of Lebanon’s Prime Minister having resigned from office on Saturday, November 4, 2017. Therefore, Beirut is now experiencing a high threat of civil war. Countries have now advised their citizens to leave Lebanon as a result. Given these circumstances, I request a FULL REFUND of my travel ticket as I must cancel my flight at no fault of my own. If I pursue this flight it is a severe risk to my safety and your representative “Michelle” kept implying that I keep my flight or risk fees. Her line of conversation placed me at severe risk for my safety by having pressured me to take the flight via the forced fees she indicated over the phone just now. Moreover, I would like to state that I spoke with an Air France representative who said Justfly can indeed request and receive a full refund and in turn fully refund me my money back.
Again, I am cancelling the below flight and am requesting a FULL REFUND with no penalties whatsoever as the product I purchased is no longer the same product today and my cancellation is the result of no fault of my own.
Thank you-

Dear JS,

First let me say I am surprised that Air France was so willing to refund your ticket as the directive from the US Dept.of State was issued in February warning US citizens not to travel to Lebanon.  I cannot find any later updates than that but that would mean that you booked the trip despite the fact that the travel warning was in effect.  That being said if they were willing to refund you then you should get your full refund as you stated.
I can give you an inside contact at JustFly to see if they are willing to do anything for you.  Just explain the situation and hopefully they will relent and give you your refund.  JustFly is a Canadian company and a subsidiary of Momentum Ventures.
  • Gaspare Borsellino
    Director of Quality Assurance
    3333 Boulevard de la Côte-Vertu
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada H4R 2N1 
    gaspare.borsellino@momentumtravel.com
I would write or email rather than trying to get the number and call.  That way you have proof if they agree to the refund.
I hope that works out and helps you get what you are asking for.
Please consider a donation to Flyers Rights on our website www.flyersrights.com
Regards,
Joel J Smiler DVM
Hotline Director
www.flyersrights.org

Dear JS,
Perhaps look at contract of carriage re. Acts of God, terrorism or other related matters. Also, you could complain to DOT as an unfair practice.

We have filed a Rulemaking petition in 2015 to cap the change or cancellation fees on international flights at $100, as the existing law still provides that DOT has a duty to ensure international prices and fees are “reasonable” – but has never acted on it since 1980, claiming the “market” will take care of it.

Finally, the DOT has had a rule pending to for several years to regulate and ensure online travel agents like this are required to adhere to proper customer service standards as airline ticket sellers, but it has so far been blocked by industry opposition and the White House freeze on all new regulations in 2017.

This is an example of why reasonable regulation and more competition is essential to prevent consumer abuses by consolidated airlines and their ticket agents, whose market power is now greater than ever while government regulation and consumer protection is weak to nonexistent.

Paul Hudson
President
FlyersRights.org

Thank you so much.
I continue to go back and forth with JustFly. I’ve also contacted the Better Business Bureau as I’ve read that JustFly seems to be former company FlyHub (its accreditation was revoked in March 2015). Are you aware of any other individuals who have had refund issues or similar experiences?
I’m considering pursuing this matter in the legal arena. Is there an attorney you can recommend that handles such cases?
Thank you again.
JS

 

Dear JS,

In looking for information on JustFly I see that the BBB has numerous complaints and has issued a warning against them.  I will give you the address of the CEO of JustFly.  I don’t know if that will help but you can try.  There is always the option of a lawsuit, but with them being in Canada, this may be difficult. Another possibility is that there is a travel writer that sometimes helps people by advocating for you.  His name is Chris Elliott and his email is help@elliott.org .
  • Matt Keezer
  • Chief Executive Officer, Momentum Ventures
  • 3333 Boulevard de la Côte-Vertu
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada H4R 2N1 
  • matt.keezer@momentumtravel.com
Best of luck with this and keep me informed as to your progress or outcome.
 
Joel J Smiler DVM
Hotline Director

In Response To Last Week’s Newsletter: ‘Full Of It’

Dear FlyersRights:
Feds should mandate that <32″ pitch be marketed as “child seat”.
PLF

Dear FlyersRights:

Couldn’t it also be said that less leg and seat room may impact the health of fliers by increasing deep vein thrombosis? You need to be able to move your legs easily to improve blood circulation.

MAC
Dear FlyersRights:
Our company used to use RESPORT from AmEx.  But when we consistently found cheaper fares they now allow us to make our own reservations.  And as the boss said, if you have a bad seat, it’s your fault…
But returning to corporate interests…  That’s why I think that companies that force employees into these seats should be open to workers comp claims and OSHA safety.  Because when I fly on an airliner, it’s for the company.  If the sub-standard seats left small businesses open to lawsuit, they would instruct their ticket buyers to buy better seats.

JP

 
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