July 11, 2013 | Kendall Creighton FlyersRights Rulz! Protecting you From Hidden Fees, Bumping, Tarmac Delays Tuesday, July 2, 2013 Last week the Department of Transportation fined Delta $750,000 for violating FlyersRights backed rules on bumping passengers from flights. The rules say airlines need to first seek volunteers to be shifted onto later flights, provide those bumped with information on their rights, and give them cash compensation. The DOT said in an announcement: “in a number of instances, Delta failed to seek volunteers before bumping passengers involuntarily, or bumped passengers involuntarily without providing them a written notice describing their rights or informing them that they had a right to cash compensation. In addition, Delta classified some passengers who were bumped involuntarily as having volunteered to give up their seats, which both violated the passengers’ rights to compensation and resulted in inaccurate bumping reports filed with DOT.” In general, if the alternative flight a bumped passenger is placed on arrives within one hour of when the original flight was scheduled to land, airlines don’t have to pay them anything. But according to federal regulations, passengers who are involuntarily bumped and will have their travel plans pushed out by more than an hour are entitled to at least 200 percent of the one-way fare to the destination (with a cap at $650). Compensation for longer delays maxes out at $1300. Some problems here are that Delta managed to work out a compromise deal with the DOT, where it didn’t need to admit or deny breaking the rules. Another issue, Delta will be allowed to use $450,000 of the fine to buy tablet computers, so that cash won’t be going to DOT. Instead, it will go to tablet makers like Apple and Google. The tablets will allegedly be used to “record consumers decisions” if they agreed to be bumped off a flight and receive compensation offered by the airline, according to DOT. This isn’t the first time Delta has been penalized for bungling how it deals with overbooked flights. The airline was fined back in 2009 for the same infraction. Read more at WSJ. More Opposition To TSA Body Scanners TSA’s 2.5 year delayed notice and comment rulemaking,allowing them to use nude body scanners as primary screening in U.S. airports, came to a close last week after 3 months of public feedback. The TSA has admitted to receiving 4,321 comments. They are overwhelmingly in opposition to the proposed mass rollout of body scanners in airports. The results don’t look good for the agency. Hacker News went through the last 100 posted, and of them: 97% were in opposition 2% were in favor 1% did not appear to take a position The response indicates that we are overwhelmingly opposed to the use of scanners, despite claims by the TSA that the majority of people are not concerned about the use of the technology – once again exposing the agency’s lies. Read FlyersRights’ comments regarding TSA Scanners here. AA-USAir Merger: Feds Investigate Antitrust Issues What ever happened to Monopoly laws that were created a century ago? Reuters reports the Justice department is looking into the proposed American-US merger for antitrust violations. The Department of Justice is taking depositions into a planned merger of American Airlines and US Airways that would create the world’s largest airline. According to the GAO: A key concern is the loss of a competitor on nonstop routes. The loss of a competitor that serves a market on a nonstop basis is significant from a competitive perspective because nonstop service is typically preferred by most passengers and routes that only have nonstop service do not benefit from the availability of alternative, albeit lower valued, connecting service. The GAO investigators looked at overlapping connecting routes and said, There would be a loss of one effective competitor in 1,665 airport pair markets affecting more than 53 million passengers. The report goes on to compare this kind of overlapping competitive routes to the previous CO/UA merger and noted: ...compared to the last major airline merger in 2010 between United and Continental, there would be 530 more airport pairs losing an effective competitor. This would affect 18 million more passengers compared to the merger between United and Continental. So, with the GAO grist being added to the merger deliberations, the writing on the wall that once seemed so clear is becoming less compelling. It is going to undergo far closer scrutiny and may be in danger of being denied by DOJ. Paul Hudson, President of FlyersRights made the statment: FlyersRights is encouraged that the Department of Justice is apparently refraining from rubber stamping the American-USAirways merger and will hopefully heed some passenger concerns. We have submitted a detailed statement to Congress, the DOT and the Department of Justice in March and met with DOJ antitrust attorneys. FlyersRights has requested that this merger be disapproved unless, 1) it required some long-ignored passenger rights requests be honored, and 2) guarded against air service reduction (particularly for medium size cities), and 3) prevented the loss of price competition resulting in higher fares that generally follows mega airline mergers. The Golden Age of Flight: When Leg Room Was a Reality Ah, the golden age of air travel, when airlines treated passengers with respect, when you could park yards from the terminal and head directly to your flight. FlyersRights is behind a back-to-the-future move to bring some regulation to the airline industry. Changes such as controlling fees, curbing overbooking and even imposing minimum service standards could help end the current Greyhound-bus-in-the-sky mentality. So let us cast a glance back at the day when flying was an event, and airlines treated it accordingly. The Golden Age of Air Travel, we will never tire of revisiting these glowing times. SLEEPING BERTHS In the late 1940s, the Boeing Stratocruiser was described by the company as being “just like the magic carpet.” Besides a beautifully appointed ladies’ lounge and reclining springy club chairs, every seat in the main cabin (not just First Class) could be adjusted and manipulated to form enough sleeping berths to accommodate each passenger. PUBS In the early 1980s, Continental Airlines outfitted some of their DC-10s with what they called a “Pub” configuration. Besides a walk-up wet bar and circular tables surrounded by swivel chairs, the Pub area also included a two-player Pong game…which was probably cutting-edge gaming technology at the time. 1970s AIRLINE COMMERCIAL BUSTER CRABBE CHAMPAGNE IN COACH In the 1970s, Southern Airways billed itself as “Route of the Aristocrats” due to its policy of offering First Class touches to every passenger. The company probably needed those cushy pillows and free-flowing booze to take the edge off of its multi-stop routes; even though it did eventually offer some non-stop flights, Southern’s bread-and-butter was air service throughout the southeastern states. A typical flight might have originated in Albany, Georgia, then stopped in Valdosta, Dothan (Alabama), and Columbus before it finally landed at its final destination of Atlanta. Vintage Ads: Southern Airlines – Second Class TABLE-SIDE MEAT CARVING Pan Am’s 707 Clippers used to offer restaurant-quality meals served seatside by an on-board chef on their Trans-Atlantic flights. PIANO LOUNGE From 1970 to about 1974, American Airlines featured a piano lounge in the rear of their 747s. The instrument in question was a Wurlitzer electric piano that required frequent repairs due to over-enthusiastic music lovers spilling their cocktails on the keys. FRESH CUT FLOWER ARRANGEMENTS Pan Am’s 707 Clipper was advertised as being “vibration-free,” and had fresh flower arrangements on every tray table without the worry about the contents being spilled into a passenger’s lap during turbulence. Pan Am continued to provide vased flowers during dinner service in First Class until the late 1970s. Pan Am introduction to jet service Excerpted from MentalFloss.com FlyersRights’ Partners: -Wear FlyersRights armor to the airport -and get treated right! Flybag ™ – the must-have TSA-compliant toiletry kit for the efficient traveler. Enter code: ISTILLFLY and you’ll receive one dollar off AND another dollar will be donated to FlyersRights! FlyersRights’ Napa Valley wine shop! You can’t miss with any of these great wines. Paul Hudson, FlyersRights President Kate Hanni, FlyersRights Founder Founded by Kate Hanni in 2007, FlyersRights is funded completely through donations and our Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) charity, to which contributions are tax deductible. Thank you for your support!