What a year so far.

Two issues have dominated the global headlines: grounding the Boeing 737 MAX and the Coronavirus outbreak – which has canceled hundreds of thousands of flights so far.

We ran a survey earlier this week asking you if flights should be screened coming into the US, or banned altogether. (If you missed it, please take the poll HERE).

FlyersRights continues to work hard for you!
On seat space, FlyersRights.org recently toured the FAA Oklahoma City facility which performs aircraft seat evacuation tests. The FAA was feigning privacy and didn’t want any press or public there, but we pushed, and our group was granted access.
We have raised the alarm for years that seats are wedged too closely together, making it difficult for passengers to evacuate an aircraft during an emergency.
Flyersrights.org is a voting member of the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, advising the FAA on safety issues and represent airline passengers and the general public.
The tests are being manipulated
At the FAA facility we observed 16 inch wide seats being used – but only volunteers thin enough to fit into those seats could participate, leaving out a significant segment of the population.
FlyersRights.org intends to file a new rulemaking petition to urge Congress to toughen up seat legislation. We expect Congress to say size doesn’t matter and  airlines can have smaller seats because safety is defined very narrowly. We will go to battle on this issue.
Recent advances

Emotional Service Animals – the Department of Transportation agreed with FlyersRights.org – ’emotional support animals’ are no longer considered service animals. Only recognized service animals under Title II and III of the ADA are allowed in airline cabins.

FlyersRights.org has called on the FAA to step up and regulate helicopters – close the loopholes on lax structural elements, impact-resistant seating and systems to prevent fuel from igniting on impact. Commercial aircraft are required to have ground avoidance warning systems, but not private aircraft and helicopters – why?

FlyersRights.org is leading the charge to ensure 737 MAX safety. We are the only group questioning the FAA and Boeing’s pressure to return this aircraft to service.

A Look Back
Back in 2007, passenger strandings were routine. It was common for bad weather to trap passengers on planes that sat idled on tarmacs for five, seven, even 12 hours and more.
FlyersRights.org aggressively petitioned Congress during this time to pass the first wave of legislation that led to significant consumer protections:

May 2008

  • Tarmac data mandate: Airlines must report tarmac data for canceled, diverted and multiple-gate-return flights.
  • “Bump Fees” doubled from $200 or $400 to $400 and $800.
December 2009
  • The 3-Hour Tarmac Rule for domestic flights ended the practice of long tarmac confinements (up to 12 hours) that were affecting 150,000 to 250,000 passengers per year.
August 2011
  • The 4-hour tarmac rule for international flights.
  • Refunds of baggage fees for lost baggage.
  • Flyers bumped from overbooked flights and stuck for hours are entitled to four times their ticket price, up to $1,300, on the spot in cash.

January 2012

  • Ban on post-purchase fare increases.
  • Ability to hold a ticket for 24 hours without a re-issuing fee.
  • Full Fare advertising: All fare advertising must include base fare PLUS any mandatory taxes, surcharges and booking fees.
  • Mandatory notification of flight delays every 30 minutes by any available method, including airport overhead announcements, visual displays, e-mail, phone, text, etc.
  • Baggage fees must be disclosed when making a reservation online and/or on the phone; it must be made clear where all ancillary fee information can be found prior to booking a ticket.
  • Addition of “tarmac delays” wording to Contract of Carriage.

April 2013

  • Partnered with flight attendants union to ban knives on planes.

February 2015

  • FlyersRights.org files an amicus brief in support of the Whistle Blower Protection statute applying to the Department of Homeland Security. In MacLean v Homeland Security, the Supreme Court agreed.
April 2016
  • FlyersRights.org files an appeal (Flyers Rights Education Fund v FAA) of the FAA’s refusal to halt or regulate seat size and legroom shrinkage. In July 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to consider “comfort or routine health” concerns but granted our petition for review on the safety issue. The court said the government’s argument that seat spacing did not affect safety in an evacuation was based on “(at best”) off-point studies and undisclosed tests using unknown parameters. That type of vaporous record will not do.”
December 2016
  • FlyersRights files an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court (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.; the Montreal Convention governs all passenger and shipper claims against airlines in international air travel.
FlyersRight.org current battles with the DOT:
  • Exorbitant change and cancellation fees for international flights.
  • Reinstatement of the reciprocity rule to reduce unnecessary passenger delays due to flight cancellations.
  • Informing passengers of their Delay Compensation Rights, in plain language, and the US bumping rule.
  • Collaborating with the FBI on curbing sexual assault on aircraft.

Flyers deserve better!

FlyersRights Calls for Safety Reforms

For more information contact Paul Hudson, 800-662-1859, Paul@flyersrights.org

Washington, DC- 2/28/2020

Last week, FlyersRights urged the Senate Commerce Committee to back legislation repealing the aircraft certification program known as ODA (Organization Designation Authorization) that allows Boeing employees and other aircraft makers to certify planes as safe with minimal FAA oversight.

“The core of aircraft certification reform must be a return to the pre-2005 system. All aircraft safety certification experts must be technically competent, selected, and under the supervision of the FAA, not Boeing or other plane makers. The present system is both corrupt and incompetent. Boeing’s own engineers have bragged about deceiving the FAA with ‘Jedi mind tricks’ while deriding FAA safety personnel as ‘dogs watching TV,'” noted Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org, the leading airline passenger organization.

About 1500 Boeing employees chosen and supervised by Boeing managers approved the Boeing 737 MAX with undisclosed and deadly software used to cover up an unstable design. This caused two crashes with 346 deaths since 2018.

Since March 2019, all 800 MAX planes have been grounded, production has halted, and Boeing has been unable to receive FAA and international regulator approval to unground. The MAX safety debacle has placed Boeing in financial crisis and US aviation safety regulation under a cloud, threatening millions of US jobs and the leading US goods export.

The FAA and Boeing, while claiming to want “transparency”, have also refused to release the technical details of the Boeing MAX proposed fix to outside experts. See Flyers Rights Education Fund v. FAA, D.C. Cir. 01:19-cv-3749-ckk.

FlyersRights.org, established in 2007, is the largest airline passenger organization. It publishes a newsletter, operates a free hotline for airline passengers 877- FLYERS6, advocates for passenger rights and interests, represents passengers on the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee dealing with air safety, and maintains a staffed office in Washington, D.C.
With the major news covering the coronavirus, below is a link with live up to date information.
“The airline announced the drastic measure this afternoon after the Trump administration confirmed it was implementing a heightened travel advisory yesterday.”
“We can confirm that the AA198 New York-Milan flight was canceled for operational reasons, a spokesman for American Airlines, one of the largest airlines in the world said. At the basis of the cancellation was the staff’s decision not to fly for fears related to coronavirus in Northern Italy, he added after a solicitation on the reasons.”
Fasten your seat belts, Congress sets hearing on air travel. The airline industry could run into turbulence on Capitol Hill next week as a Congressional panel tackles passenger complaints about “unpleasant airline experiences”.
FlyersRights.org will be following this closely. The public can monitor on CSpan.
“This week the House will take up a bill to move Transportation Security Officers under Title 5, putting them in the GS pay schedule system where, presumably, they’d earn more money. The bill would not allow pay cuts. It would basically end the TSA’s authority to have it’s own personnel system. TSOs would also get expanded bargaining rights and several other workplace protections other Title 5 employees have. They wouldn’t be able to strike.”
This week, the federal government put some restrictions on the agency as it works to cut costs. Right now, TSA is not able to hire any additional staff or allow agents to work overtime. It’s leading to fears that it may take longer to get through security when flying.
“The Transportation Security Administration said Sunday it has stopped allowing employees to use the China-owned video app TikTok to create social media posts for the agency after the Senate’s top democrat raised concerns about potential national security issues.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/schumer-raises-security-concerns-on-tsas-use-of-tiktok-app/2020/02/23/4046564a-5605-11ea-80ce-37a8d4266c09_story.html 
Remember, always opt out of nude body scanners and file a complaint at https://www.tsa.gov/contact/contact-forms