Korean Air Fumbles Fare Fiasco

Airline Fashion Police Confuse Passengers

Fees in the News

Matching Gift Pledge!

What Kate’s Saying

Korean Air Fumbles Fare Fiasco

FlyersRights.org was inundated last week with calls and e-mail from passengersKAL Logoshocked to discover that Korean Air had cancelled their confirmed ticket from US departure points to the Pacific resort destination, Palau. The tickets, purchased by over 300 people during the first week in September, were confirmed for travel dates between November 30 and March, 2012. While the advertised rate was unusually low, travelers saw it as an introductory fare for a new route.

A month later, Korean Air notified the DOT that that the fare was advertised in error, asserting that it was a special fare intended to be available only to travel agents as a means of promoting the airline’s inaugural service between North America and Palau but mistakenly made available to the public at large.

They claimed that the fare restriction was clearly identified. The identification was an obscure fare basis code only shown in the mouse print fare rules and restrictions. Expecting passengers to understand these codes is tantamount to publishing the rules in a foreign language, requiring passengers to use a translation dictionary.

Affected passengers were not notified until November 7th, fully two months after the erroneous bookings. The airline offered full ticket reimbursement, reimbursement for “travel-related” out of pocket expenses, a $200 voucher, and repurchase at the lowest fare available during the last year.

However, that fare is nearly 50% higher than the booked fare, and was a deal-breaker for many of the passengers. The meaning of “travel-related expenses” is not clear. Does it include booking hotels, tours, and non-refundable items that have been booked while counting on the trip?

Further, the 111 passengers in contact with FlyersRights have yet to receive a penny of reimbursement. Finally, the notification delay almost certainly moved the travelers into a much more expensive ticket price range, making the $200 voucher of questionable value, especially for booking on another airline.

The airline’s error destroyed the dreams of many people. A blind PhD candidate in Texas who dreamed of swimming with dolphins, something she is prohibited from doing in the US, said, “Korean Air may have destroyed a life-long dream of this blind lady.” Korean Air broke a deal. By charging their credit card, sending confirmations & waiting two months to notify their customers of their error, they broke the dreams of hundreds of passengers and effectively extorted them for more money to rebook.

Airline Fashion Police Confuse Passengers

A series of boarding denial incidents have raised the issue of consistent rules. Last week’s Fox News interview with Kate covered a wide range of issues, but the part that was aired focused on what is and isn’t proper attire for air travel. Noting thatAirport Fashion “appropriate attire” is simply a question of flight attendant opinion, Kate said that “People aren’t mind readers. They don’t know what that flight attendant’s going to want to see when you get on a plane!”

Some viewers misconstrued Kate’s comments as advocating for a sort of travel uniform, as some of the What Kate’s Saying entries below will show. In fact, FlyersRights believes that anything legal on the street should be legal
in an airliner. We simply want guidelines from the carriers regarding what constitutes unacceptable attire. As things stand now, pants worn too low are sometimes unacceptable, while the gentleman shown here was ushered to his seat on a US Airways flight.

Fees in the News

One airline found a new way to squeeze more money from their passengers last week, while a new United States Senate bill targeted an irritating but common fee.

Comtel LogoA Comtel Air flight from India to Britain stopped in Vienna for fuel last week and the charter service asked its passengers to fork over $31,000 to continue the flight. Passengers reported being sent off the plane to use airport ATMs. The flight eventually reached its destination, packed with irate passengers. Major airline stockholder Bhupinder Kandra blamed travel agents, saying the agents had not turned fare money over to the airline before departure. “This is not my problem,” he said. “The problem is with the agents.” Welcome to air travel in the 21st Century.

As Kate said, “There’s plenty of absurdity in airline land.”

On the other hand, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) introduced a bill last week that she said would protect passengers from excessive baggage fees. Dubbed The Airline Passenger BASICS – or Basic Airline Standards to Improve Customer Satisfaction – Act , the bill, S. 1913, would require airlines to allow one checked bag, carry-on bag, and personal item without charge, excluding overweight bags, and mandates provision of a seat, potable water, and bathroom facilities without further charge.

FlyersRights supports the senator’s effort. While it won’t save air travelers any money, it will simplify fares. More than that, it will eliminate the incentive to pack one’s worldly belongings into a carry-on. With fewer carry-on bags, TSA lines will speed up and we’ll spend less time standing in the jet way while those ahead of us spend minutes jamming overstuffed luggage into the overhead bins.

Moreover, FlyersRights recognizes the need for infrastructure improvements, largely funded through the FAA 7.5% excise fee on ticket sales. Unbundled fees are not subject to that tax, causing decreased funding for the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. When the airlines again fold baggage charges into ticket prices, more funding will flow into airport improvements.

Matching Gift Pledge!

The Flyers Rights Education Fund is the education and service arm of our organization. Approved by the IRS in June, 2011, the Fund gives you a way tocontribute to our airline passenger rights efforts through a tax-deductible vehicle. We now support many of our efforts through The Fund:

  • Our free, 24/7 Hotline
  • Mass mailings unrelated to political action requests
  • Press releases related to educational efforts on behalf of airline passenger rights

Now we have an exciting new way for you to leverage your tax-deductibleFREF Logocontributions to the Fund. Paul Hudson, a member of our Board of Directors andExecutive Director of the Aviation Consumer Action Project (ACAP), has pooled his personal resources with those of ACAP and friends of our longtime supporter, Ralph Nader, to pledge a matching-gift contribution of $15,000 to Flyers Rights Education Fund.

Paul’s generous pledge gives you an opportunity to truly leverage your contributions to the Fund. His coalition will match, dollar for dollar, yourdonations to the Flyers Rights Education Fund, up to the $15,000 pledge!

But you must act now! We must achieve this goal by the end of the year. Please go to the Flyers Rights Education Fund donation page now and give what you can. The coalition’s generous offer expires at midnight, December 31, 2011. We must answer the coalition’s challenge and meet their contribution goal by the end of the year.

Remember, each and every dollar you contribute during this short window will have a double impact on advancing the cause of airline passenger rights.

Help us stay in the fight! Kate’s remarkable responses to Snowtober, in so many national forums, would not have been possible without your generous support. You know that her family can no longer subsidize the effort-without your help, the premier voice of airline passenger rights in America will be stilled.

What Kate’s Saying


Thanksgiving Flightmare Part 2: Avoiding Airport Rage

FOX19 News Cincinnati

FOX19 News and Weather – Greater Cincinnati AreaTraveling for

USA Today

All flight decompression events not reported

Fox News


Daily Mail

Now PASSENGERS have to wear a dress code on planes

WBUR (Boston NPR)


Pocono Record

Advocates push for airline ‘passenger dress code’


Airline Dress Code Called For by FlyersRights.org


Rights Groups Want Airlines to Issue Dress Codes for Flying

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