As we look back with pride on our successes, and look forward to another year of challenges, we gratefully reflect on the fact that we are an organization financed entirely through the generosity of our members.
Again we must ask you, our loyal membership, to continue your generous support in 2018.
The fight is far from over
Last week we celebrated Congress’ approval of legislation that requires the FAA to set minimum distances between seats by studying how quickly people can safely evacuate an aircraft.
Except, the airlines produce the evacuation tests, and they are staged unconvincingly.
But more important is what was omitted from the bill. The airlines’ multi-million dollar lobbying effort had removed any new rules on airlines’ fees for reservation changes or bags.
We’ve got your back
Your donation directly supports our push-back efforts against the airlines squeezing the passenger in fees and seat space. Plus, you’re sustaining our free 24/7 Hotline.
For over a decade, FlyersRights.org has a proven track record in airline consumer issues, starting with passing the 3-Hour Tarmac Rule in 2009. Since then, FlyersRights.org has fought hard for you, the passenger.
• 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 on 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.
Yes, we’ve got your back!
Note: contributions to The Flyers Rights Education Fund Inc. are tax-deductible and can be sent to: 4411 Bee Ridge RD #274, Sarasota, FL 34233 – or indicate on credit card form it is a charitable contribution.
How far will seats shrink?
Unless the FAA changes its current positions (1) that existing shrunken seats are safe, (2) that seats have no significant adverse health effects, (3) that it has no jurisdiction to regulate seats due to health effects and (4) that any matter of comfort is none of its business, there will likely be no improvement. The FAA could even set seat size standards so low than it encourages further shrinkage.
But there are other possibilities:
• The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals could grant our present appeal (see Flyers Rights Education Fund v FAA US CA DC 18-1227, 16-1101, FAA-2015-4011) by overturning the FAA decision of 7/2/18 holding that shrunken seats are safe and grant our petition. It calls for a freeze on further shrinkage, appointment of a representative Advisory Committee, and a regulation that ensures that at least 90 percent of passengers can be accommodated in economy seats while larger seats would be made available for the other 10 percent (i.e., those over 250 pounds or 6 feet, 2 inches).
• The DOT Inspector General audit of emergency evacuation testing could determine that the tests are unrealistic and/or fudged as alleged by many, including FlyersRights.org and the flight attendants union.
• Congress, which conferred with airlines but not passenger groups on the seat bill language, could tighten its language to include health and comfort considerations in setting minimum seat standards in addition to safety.
• The FAA, which issues certificates of public necessity and convenience allowing a corporation to offer air transportation to the general public, could make minimum personal passenger space a requirement.
• Congress could pass the Free to Fly Act introduced by Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va. Currently, big U.S. airlines are protected from foreign competition on domestic routes, have DOT antitrust exemptions on most foreign routes, and have managed to outlaw foreign investment in domestic airlines above 25 percent.
• The DOT and Congress could deregulate airport regulations as proposed in 2017 by the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee and other pro-competition reforms by FlyersRights.org.
Airport authorities also enjoy antitrust exemptions – prohibitions on private or federal government operation and ownership of airports. This allows Chicago, New York City, New York state, New Jersey and other local governments to have monopoly power over national air transportation choke points. It has effectively prevented new airport construction to relieve congestion delays. This has resulted in increased air travel times, decreased reliability, higher costs, and passenger inconvenience for decades.
Such regulations reduce competition and discourage improvement in air transportation generally.
Member, FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee