September 26, 2018 | Kendall Creighton From the department of we told you so, American Airlines joined the fee-raising party last week, hiking bag fees to match Delta, United, JetBlue, Air Canada and WestJet. Was anyone really surprised by the move, started by JetBlue in late August and matched by the other carriers within a month? Aren’t airlines supposed to compete against each other, you ask? Well, not exactly. American settled a fare-collusion lawsuit in June and Southwest did so inJanuary. While neither airline admitted to any wrongdoing, it does cast a shadow over the industry. Win Some, Lose Some Early Saturday morning, Congress announced an FAA Reauthorization Bill that did not include language to regulate runaway fees. However, Congress did include a couple of consumer wins in the bill, including requiring the FAA to set minimum seat width and legroom dimensions. Remember when the FAA said it wasn’t their job to regulate seat space in response to a lawsuit brought by FlyersRights.org in June of this year? Well, now it is their job. Last time we checked, though, the airlines were getting Congress to scrap fee regulation, and the FAA wrote us back in July that things were just great in seatland. So we ask, who do you want representing airline travelers on this and other important issues? We’ve Got Your Back FlyersRights.org is a small nonprofit that relies exclusively on donations to keep the fight going. The carriers have shown money not to be an object. Take a look at the millions they spent in lobbying so far in 2018. And between 2007 and 2017, United alone spent more than $41 million to fight against consumer rights. For over a decade, FlyersRights.org has a proven track record in airline consumer issues. Starting with our advocacy in passing the 3-Hour Tarmac Rule in 2009, FlyersRights.org has been involved in fighting for you, the passenger. We’ve achieved many stunning successes: We succeeded in getting the Tarmac Rule passed so people have the opportunity to get off planes that are stuck on the ground for long periods of time. The regulation also sets rules for providing passengers immobilized on the runway with food, hygienic toilets, potable water, temperature control and access to medications. We succeeded in getting the bumping compensation range doubled. Formerly, $200 to. $400, it’s now $400 to $800. We succeeded in requiring airlines and ticket agents to include all mandatory taxes and fees in published airfares and to disclose baggage fees to consumers buying tickets. We succeeded at getting a rulemaking through the Department of Transportation ensuring that domestic flights that are diverted, canceled or forced to make multiple gate returns will not evade the tarmac timeclock. In February 2012 Congress passed the formal Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights, which responded to many of our complaints and included “no child left unbuckled.” Passengers are now able to hold a reservation without payment, or cancel a booking without penalty, for 24 hours after the reservation is made, provided they make the reservation one week or more prior to the flight’s departure. Airlines are required to promptly notify passengers of flight delays of over 30 minutes, as well as flight cancellations and diversions, and carriers are generally prohibited from increasing the price of a ticket after it is bought. DOT set a four-hour time limit on tarmac delays for all international flights at U.S. airports, and extended the three-hour tarmac delay limit for domestic flights to smaller airports. It also required additional airlines to report their lengthy tarmac delays to DOT. April 2013: We partnered with the Association of Flight Attendants to ban knives on planes. February 2015: We filed an amicus brief in MacLean v. Department of Homeland Security in support of applying the Whistle Blower Protection statute to the department. The Supreme Court agreed. April 2016: We filed an appeal of the FAA’s refusal to halt or regulate seat size and legroom shrinkage (Flyers Rights Education Fund v. FAA). December 2016: FlyersRights filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in Schoenebeck v. KLM in support of reversing a 9th Circuit decision refusing to recognize filing a lawsuit in another nation as meeting the two-year statute of limitations unless a case is also filed in the U.S. July 2017: The D.C. Circuit granted our petition for review and agreed with FlyersRights.org that the administration failed to provide a plausible evidentiary basis for concluding that decreased seat sizes combined with increased passenger sizes have no effect on emergency egress. Currently pending before the DOT are FlyersRights.org’s rulemaking petitions dealing with exorbitant change and cancellation fees on international flights; reinstatement of the reciprocity rule to reduce unnecessary passenger delays due to flight cancellations; and the informing of passengers of their delay compensation rights in plain language under the Montreal Convention, EU rules and the U.S. bumping rule. In addition, we’ve been working tirelessly at getting Congress to adopt our Passengers Bill of Rights 2.0, a comprehensive set of over 30 pro-consumer, pro-airline competition proposals to improve air travel for all passengers. This week, please donate to our Flyers Rights Fund-a-thon! Who will be our first $500 donor? Please donate more if you can, less if you can’t, but something is a must. How about a monthly donation of $25? It seems like a lot, we know, but think of what you and other flyers have received over 11 years. You are supporting 52 newsletters a year, a 24-hour Hotline and a staffed advocacy office in Washington D.C. We need to raise $50,000 by year end to keep these things aloft the for you and all flyers. We’ve got your back! Join us as we attempt to restore some sanity to the world of air travel.