The FAA Bill Has Passed!

TSA Officers Sweeten Their Incomes

What Kate’s Saying

The FAA Bill Has Passed!

As we reported last week, Congress reached an agreement, bringing to an end five years of stagnation, on the FAA Modernization and Safety Improvement Act of 2012, the bill we know as the FAA Reauthorization Bill. In the days that have followed, both the House and Senate have approved rules for the FAA Bill’s conference report, clearing the way for a final vote. The House Resolution said, in essence, “We’re going to vote after no more than an hour’s debate, no more changes, and no parliamentary shenanigans.” After the ensuing debate, the House passed the bill, 248-169.

After less than an hour of debate on Monday, February 6th, the Senate passed the bill, 75-20!

Just to review, here’s a comparison of our long-sought goals and the provisions in the bill.

FlyersRights Goal

Bill Provision

Three-Hour Tarmac Rule

Law prohibits excessive delays. DOT 3-hour rule remains in effect.

Food and Water Available

Food and water always available (deletes DOT “after 2 hours” provision)

Medical Treatment Available

Medical treatment always available (deletes DOT “after 2 hours” provision)

Airline Contingency Plans

Airline contingency plans for eachairport where carrier has flights (removes DOT’s minimum annual enplanement restriction)

Airport Contingency Plans

For the first time, airport contingency plans (no such provision in DOT rulemakings)

DOT Consumer Hotline

DOT consumer hotline, number published on internet, prominently displayed by carriers on ticket counter signs and ticket e-confirmations

Smoke-Free Environment

Smoke-free on scheduled and unscheduled flights, domestic and international

No Child Left Unbuckled

Carriers must post on their web sites the maximum size for child safety-seats on each type of aircraft they operate, so passengers can determine which car seats will work with which aircraft

Carry Musical Instruments On-board Without Additional Charge

Treats instruments that can be safely stowed like any other carry-on item

Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection

DOT advisory committee, made up of members from air carriers, airport operators, state or local governments, and nonprofit public interest groups with consumer protection experience

Realistic Scheduling to Minimize Delays

If aircraft operations exceed an airport’s capability, FAA and airlines meet to develop schedule reduction plan. If no voluntary agreement is reached, FAA will take reduction action

Passenger Awareness of Insecticide Use

Air carriers to refer passengers to DOT web page with list of countries that may require in-cabin spraying for flights to those countries

Informative Delay Reporting

Codified DOT requirement for diversion and cancellation reporting

Consideration for Military Members

“Sense of Congress” that carriers should be flexible and generous with active duty military members. They seek reductions in airfares, change fees/penalties, the ability to purchase, modify or cancel without time restrictions, waive fees (including baggage fees), ancillary costs, and penalties.

The next step, of course, is the President’s signature. It’s important to realize that until that happens, changes are still possible. For example, many unions strongly object to a compromise in the bill that has implications for airline unionization issues. Because of our recent weekend campaign, congressional leadership and Senators Boxer and Snowe are well aware of the strong support for airline passenger rights. We are confident that any last-minute moves to modify the bill will not include changes to our provisions.

We’ve achieved an astonishing victory for America’s airline passengers. Together, we will fight for the day when “nightmare” and “air travel” aren’t routinely used in the same sentence.

TSA Officers Sweeten Their Incomes

As we shuffle through the endless security lines at our nation’s airports, we eventually arrive at a point where we are absolutely required to trust other peopleTSA Linewith our valuable possessions. At minimum, we throw wallets and loose change into plastic bowls before filing through the metal detector. Our carry-on bags leave our sight as they endure their own TSA ordeal. We entrust our luggage to a series of TSA Officers an
d baggage handlers, with no way to secure it at all due to the existing TSA rules.

Some TSA Officers are using those opportunities to boost their incomes. The TSA unit at JFK has been very enterprising. One TSA checkpointTSA Officer Arrestedofficer snagged $5,000 from a passenger’s wallet as it moved along the conveyor belt. Fortunately, a more reliable TSA officer witnessed the incident and reported it. Less fortunately, the thief was able to pass the money to an accomplice, and the $5,000 is still at large.

Two even more enterprising TSA officers are accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from checked baggage. So far, almost $40,000 has been recovered.

These two incidents follow on the heels of a Newark International Airport TSA supervisor’s guilty plea on charges that he stole several thousand dollars from passengers passing through his checkpoint.

Theft is not limited to cash. A TSA Officer and his wife at Miami International were arrested last month after they tried to sell two iPads boosted from a passenger’s luggage. The officer, Michael Pujol, told investigators that he slipped the iPads into a secret pocket in his uniform. His wife then put them up for sale on Craigslist.

These incidents are troubling on a couple of levels. They call into question the trust we are required to place in TSA personnel. Even more disturbing is the realization that while these people were busy stealing from passengers, they were making no contribution to air travel security. Should we fear the people assigned to protect us more than the people from whom TSA allegedly protects us?

What Kate’s Saying

Huffington Post

Kate Hanni FAA Bill Risks End of Tarmac Rule

Santa Rosa Press Democrat

North Coast advocates push for airline passenger rights bill

Kate was on this teleconference

Miami Herald Launches Final Push for Airline Passengers Rights

New York Times

Trench Coats, Vacuum-Seal Bags and Other Ways to Avoid Airline Fees


FAA bill sent to Obama by Senate

United Press International

Two tacks for fighting airline fees emerge

MarketWatch Reuters Newsblaze Sacramento Bee

84 media agencies linked to this press release! Final Passage of Airline Passengers’ Bill of

WBUR (NPR Boston)

Social Media Acts As Catalyst for Policy Change


Should the airlines have a stated dress code?

USA Today

No greater risk of blood clots from flying economy class

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