This may not seem like news, as passengers have been sleeping in airports for a long time due to delays and mechanical problems.

But a recent American Airlines flight which was delayed 15 hours at Miami International Airport and stranded Allegiant passengers at Des Moines International Airport have shined new light on the issue.

The AA flight was en route to Chile when it had to return to MIA after only an hour in flight due to mechanical trouble.

This turned into a 15 hour delay, forcing passengers to spend the night on the airport floor because the airline did not offer hotel accommodations.

At Des Moines International Airport, a 14 hour overnight delay, caused police and security to be called in just after midnight when a “mob” broke out, passengers told KCCI.

Sleeping at an airport, once limited to the young and strapped for cash, has become common nowadays –denigrating even older and professional travelers.

The reason is that the airlines are not as forthcoming with hotel vouchers as they once were.

This comes amid another record-setting year of profits, with net earnings forecasted to be $16.4 billion in 2018. U.S. airlines are also expected to scoop almost half of global airline industry profit this year.

Sleeping overnight in an airport has become so common that it has inspired movieswebsites and at least one novel.

In contrast, European Union rules since 2005 say delays of more than five hours entitle a passenger to a hotel room during overnight strandings. Those rules apply at any EU airport, regardless of the nationality of the airline.

Airlines used to routinely give stranded passengers vouchers for rooms and meals if a flight was canceled or delayed as a result of mechanical problem or some other issue of an airline’s own making, but not for weather-related delays.

The Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the U.S. Department of Transportation governs air safety issues. Please voice your complaint – whether it’s a lost bag, a delayed flight, anything – and add your voice to a database that is used to inform policymakers.

To lodge a complaint, access an online form here: dot.gov/airconsumer/file-consumer-complaint. Or call 202-366-2220 or write to Aviation Consumer Protection Division, C-75, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave, S.E., Washington, D.C. 20590

Commentary

The FAA regulates air safety not the DOT, which makes and enforced air travel consumer
Regulations.
Airports are supposed to have emergency operations plans, in addition to the airlines, to handle disruptions in operations.
But unfortunately there is no real enforcement practice, nor mandated backup or reserves. When major disruptions occur, the airports sometimes call the Red Cross.
Passengers can and should take video of bad situations, call the local media, use social media as well as complain to the DOT -which generally just logs 90% of complaints for statistical reports or refers claims to the airlines.
And, for the remaining 10%,  investigations typically take 1-3 years -after which it issues a secret no-action letter. In a few cases it may issue a public consent order.
These consent orders typically provide for a small fine, half of which is forgiven if the violator-airline promises to do better in the future -with no admission of liability or fault.
The DOT, for example, issued a secret no-action letter to United Airlines after the infamous violent removal of Dr Dao in Chicago, that found 2-3 violations. But issued no fine because it found the violations were not “egregious” – plus DOT claimed there was insufficient evidence, and they lacked jurisdiction over the airport police!
This decision was only released due to a FOIA request by FlyersRights.org after a 5 month delay.
Paul Hudson
President
FlyersRights.org
Call Out for Passengers
Last week we asked you to send in your story about airfares disappearing and going higher after
you tried to book online. Here’s what you said:

Dear FlyersRights:

I have had multiple experiences with this issue. I will go online and search for round-trip fares usually from BJI to ICT through MSP. When I first look at the dates I want to travel, I write down the fares and the times available. I delete all my information and wait a couple hours. When I open the same site my information is there and the fares have gone up $20 to $50 or more before I book. I basically have to deal with Delta because that is the only airline out of BJI and Delta raises their fares consistently after you check online for prices. This happens same day, same flights, same dates of travel.
Airline tickets are already WAY to expensive.
The last 3 years I have had to fly at least 5 to 6 times a year or more to help care for my mom. I live in Minnesota and she lives in Kansas. Price gouging by Delta made my trips more expensive than they needed to be.
Thank you for investigating this online ticket issue. I appreciate and support what you do so very much. My partner and I give to your organization. We totally believe in what you are doing for all of us. Thanks again.
SH

Dear FlyersRights:Last time I had the experience you mentioned about booking online was with American Airlines, I think in November 2017, for a trip to Europe. Many sincere thanks.

BC

More Letters

Dear FlyersRights:I usually travel with a carry-on “just in case.” This is for when your luggage goes to a different destination! There are certain items you just don’t put in your checked bags, important documents, cameras, jewelry.

My biggest peeves are the backpacks, laptops and shopping bags of one passenger that can fill up a bin. And really not safe are the bags with handles that are stuffed under the seat in front of you so that you’ll trip over them.

I usually travel, domestic and international, with a cross-body messenger bag. My seat belt fastens, the bag’s secure in my possession, and no hands gives me freedom.

A little common sense and sensible planning take you a long way.

ALA

Dear FlyersRights:

It matters less about taking items with you in a crisis than it does to understand human nature and what we do that later seems stupid. Humans under crisis do as they have been trained or are used to doing things. It does not add any time.

The real issue is not someone holding their pet kitten they brought as a carry-on during an emergency evacuation. It’s the shrinking aisle ways and the small space between fronts and backs of seats that prevent people from walking freely that really cause slowdowns.  Don’t be fooled.

JP

Dear FlyersRights:

Love what you guys do. Appreciative of your time, effort & passion.

But the airline industry is not going to change.

Check plane designs for the next few generations… Just more of the same. Cramped, smaller seats, unsanitary, more planes in the air… It’s all a sh!t sandwich not unlike any other mode of public transportation. It’s a monopoly, a public necessity, run by soulless politicians, lobbyists & bureaucrats. The only difference is, it’s super expensive.

Once in my life, I flew first class. What a mistake! I wish I didn’t really know how those folks live. Their experience with airline travel from beginning to end is NOTHING like the 99%.

I know that’s throwing in the towel, but it is true.

Thank you for letting me rant … Sorry!

MD

There is an old expression my NYC grandmother used to say, “You can’t fight City Hall.”  But having spent decades doing just that, the better expression is, “You can but it’s hard, you will lose often, but it’s not impossible, and numbers matter. ”    

FlyersRights.org and airline passenger wins since 2007 include the tarmac confinement rule (aka the 3 Hour Rule); free cancellation for 24 hours; court remand to the FAA to reconsider its denial of a halt to seat shrinkage and setting of seat standards; much higher baggage compensation for U.S. flights than international; opening up transatlantic flights to low-cost international carriers like Norwegian, which has kicked off a price war driving down prices dramatically (as low as $150 from SF to Rome, or $99 NY to UK); and so far blocking turnover of air traffic control to a private monopoly like Amtrak controlled by the airlines. We have also helped block hundreds of proposals by the airline industry to repeal safety and consumer regulations.  

Seats will increase in size when it is required by law, or when passengers rebel, or when lots of people die because they cannot quickly exit jammed planes and/or when competition causes some in the industry to realize that reducing passenger space is eliminating so many customers that wider planes and seats are necessary. Then planes jammed like subcompact cars will become obsolete, unprofitable and/or illegal.

regards,

Paul Hudson, president, FlyersRights.org

PS – Giving up is self-defeating; persistence by spending a little time and money is the only answer.

 

Thank you for your response, time & wisdom. All much appreciated.

You’ve given me a measure of hope, knowing someone so committed is involved with FlyersRights.org.

Thanks again.

MD

The FlyersRights® Insider Vol. 16

This week’s travel-related information tips and suggestions for our readers and members.

1. Quick, do you need a visa to travel to Belarus, Brazil or Burkina Faso? Refer to the Passport Index, which also ranks passports by their “visa-free scores.” Singaporeans can visit 161 countries visa-free while Afghans have visa-free access to just 25

2. TSA Slows down pre-check:
3. Best way to renew your passport:
The above articles can be viewed by clicking on the link.  For more in-depth and up-to-date information on these items, please refer to the source.
 
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