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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

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Pie In The Sky
February 3, 2016 

How do we fix the airlines?
We asked. You answered. Here's a partial list of suggestions:
  • Let's make a statement to the airlines, just to get their attention, and pick a day or week when we'll agree not to fly anywhere.
  • After 15 minutes, an airline would be penalized $10 for every minute a passenger stood in line at check in.
  • If anyone on board a flight finds that another passenger paid less for a ticket, everyone who paid more than that passenger will get a refund.
  • No plane would leave the gate and taxi to the runway until it was cleared for flight, saving the airline gas and the passengers time.
  • The overhead compartment would be for the exclusive use of the passengers sitting underneath it. No one else could put anything in it without written permission.
  • Every plane would have an aisle wide enough to permit a passenger to maneuver past a drink cart to get to the bathroom.
  • Prohibit irritating announcements. For example, no crew member would be allowed to thank everyone for their patience after a two-hour delay, when passengers aren't patient, but mad as hell.
  • Passengers would get to judge the in-flight entertainment as "Good," "Acceptable," "Poor" or "Nonworking." If the vote averaged lower than 'Acceptable,' then the airline would provide free in-flight WiFi to affected passengers for a year.
  • If baggage went to the wrong city, the owner would be entitled to a free flight to that city after he got his bag back.
  • The flight schedules would be based on the average time it took to get from one city to another, from the moment the aircraft door was closed to the moment it was opened at its destination.
  • If an airline faked a repair problem and canceled a lightly-booked flight to save money, it would be penalized $100 per passenger. (Airlines are notorious for this; American Airlines, having been caught at this by the FAA, has been heavily fined in recent years). Same applies to faked mechanicals, fictitious weather, etc.
  • There will be a cash inconvenience refund of $10 per passenger when the plane being boarded is at the gate farthest from the terminal, which is almost always.
  • Banish announcements saying, 'If there is anything flight attendants can do for you to make your flight more comfortable, please don't hesitate to ask.' We know flight attendants have their hands full and are far too busy to help anyone.
  • There will be a $10 cash refund for each passenger for every minute the pilot is wrong on his estimate of when the plane will reach the gate. The cash will be handed out as passengers deplane instead of, "Thank you for flying with us."
  • The price of a ticket will not be arbitrary, but based on the distance between the two cities spanned by the flight.
  • Airlines that raise fares when the price of fuel goes up must lower them when the price of fuel declines.
  • When there are more than ten persons in any line at a check in counter, the airline must open another position.
  • No passenger will wait more than 15 minutes to have his or her baggage delivered at the luggage carousel after landing.
  • We put a man on the moon. We built the pyramids. We discovered and mapped DNA. We should be able to figure out how to hire personable, well-motivated TSA staff, given their obscene budget, and make security check-in a pleasant and efficient experience.
To sum up, it's death by a thousand cuts that makes flying such an awful experience. So let's channel this negative energy into motivation and power. We're sick and tired and we're not going to take it anymore.


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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

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Fuelish Games

January 27, 2016



No other event in 2016 will have an impact as massive as the continued slide in fuel prices.

Oil's fall from grace will influence airline profits more positively than any single event in modern history predicts Moody's Investment Service.

The slump in price has been so rapid that it's been like winning the lottery for the airline industry. Even if the price does not fall as far as previous lows, most airlines have adjusted to being profitable with oil at $100 a barrel, so the windfall will flow straight to the bottom line.

Last week we spoke to the media about the trending story of why savings from falling oil prices have not been passed along to customers.

In earnings reports released last week, executives from the country's biggest carriers bragged about profits that have surpassed those reported before the Great Recession and the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The result is that Americans are being pickpocketed. Airfares and fees are costly because carriers refuse to compete with each other, ensuring they can continue to charge high prices.

At 40 of the 100 largest U.S. airports, a single airline controls a majority of the market, as measured by the number of seats for sale. This is up from 34 airports a decade earlier.

According to an Associated Press analysis of data from Diio, an airline-schedule tracking service, one or two airlines control a majority of the seats at 93 of the top 100 airports, an increase from 78 airports from 10 years earlier.

The airlines are not only oligopolistic, but also exercise considerable power in Washington to squeeze regulators to block rivals from getting a foothold.

So fuel costs have come down, but fares haven't. Paradoxically, airline profits have skyrocketed while quality of service for customers has dropped.

Travelers are now performing a number of tasks previously performed by travel agents and employees - from booking tickets to checking bags.

The price of jet fuel is dropping precipitously. The U.S. economy is improving. Unionism is on the decline. And efficiency is improving with the use of advanced computerization.

Yet some carriers continue to impose extra charges they initiated during the lean years when oil prices were high, such as jet fuel surcharges, fees for each piece of baggage, and charges for in-flight food. All contribute to high airfares.

In particular, jet fuel surcharges have drawn the attention of Washington.

Last year, Sen. Charles Schumer asked the Department of Justice and Department of Transportation to investigate why airfares have remained so high despite declining oil prices.

No one is surprised that flights today are more crowded and more expensive, with more fees and worse service.

2016 will be yet another year of record profitability for U.S. airlines. Unfortunately for airline customers, they should expect more of the same treatment in 2016.

Instead of adding flights, "Almost all of our capacity growth domestically is about putting more seats on airplanes," said American Airlines president Scott Kirby in a 2015 investment conference and echoed by the other U.S. carriers. "We will absolutely not lose our capacity discipline."

If the airline industry was more competitive, carriers would have greater difficulty pulling these stunts. Yet they get away with imposing an outrageous array of fees for services that used to be covered in the price of a ticket. A slew of cost-cutting measures that studies show have contributed to customer complaints, as have lost bags, lateness and overbooking - all of which were up in 2015.

How have we gotten to this point?

Airline mergers and consolidations are taking a systemic toll that is bad for consumers. These robber barons in rimless glasses and Porsche leather driving gloves pick the pockets of Great Recession-hit families as gleefully as any old Andrew Carnegie - except they have little fear of government interference.

It is time for our government to stand up to the airlines in the name of the people.


Support FlyersRights:


Getting on a Plane? 
Put This Number in Your Phone:
1 (877) Flyers6
  1 (877) 359-3776

The FlyersRights HOTLINE!

We publish weekly newsletters. 
There's no charge to receive any of them.  
  
Send your comments to the newsletter editor: kendallc@FlyersRights.org, or @KendallFlyers
FlyersRights.org, 4411 Bee Ridge Road, 274, Sarasota, FL 34233
Sent by kendallc@flyersrights.org in collaboration with
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Friday, January 22, 2016



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A Row About Rows
Love Thy Neighbor?

January 20, 2016  
Pushing the limit - Airbus will pack in 11 passengers per row.
One of the airline trends we're watching in 2016 was started by Airbus last summer - that is, packing in 11 seats per row on a A380 superjumbo jet.

It's become a knee-crushing arms race. Or as the airlines like to call it 'cost savings.' But who really wins?

It's hard to argue that in economy class today, the majority of the seats aren't too small.

Given the lack of competition, the mergers that have shaped the U.S. airline marketplace and the health risks of sardine-esque legroom, there needs to be a simple minimum standard - of at least 34 inches of seat pitch and 18 inches of width.

Last summer, Airbus floated this trial balloon -- an 11 seats per row aircraft, where 10 abreast is considered high-density. The news went over like a lead balloon. Public reaction was almost universally negative.
But incredibly, Airbus said they were "very satisfied" with their 3-5-3 economy class cabin design, which will "meet the needs of a new breed of customer".

Airbus achieved this unprecedented sardining by cutting seat width by an inch, slashing armrest widths by just over one inch, slanting window armrests outwards, shrinking the aisles.

At some point, safety trumps capitalism, and that's where government steps in

In August, FlyersRights.org filed a formal Petition for Rulemaking with the FAA to set minimum standards guaranteeing each passenger adequate leg, hip, and shoulder room.

Of course, the airlines hate this and contend that minimum seat standards will lead to higher prices and fewer choices. But the reality is quite the opposite, such standards will level the playing field between airlines and ensure that the price of an economy class airline seat on one airline is truly comparable to that of another airline.

It should also be remembered that there is no magic in the supposedly lower fares (and higher fees) charged by airlines that have cut back on legroom and seat sizes. Passengers still pay the price for smaller seats one way or the other -- if not in cash, then in bruised knees, broken laptops, increased respiratory illness, increased risk of DVT, air rage leading to diverted flights.

No middle ground

This is clearly a situation where the market has failed. Consumers desperately want a choice between crammed economy class and super-expensive first class. There is little middle ground for seat width, and people keep getting bigger. It's not like most consumer products, where you get a range of options to suit your budget.

The airline industry's argument that consumers already have a choice is laughable.

Business and First Class are almost completely cost-prohibitive for the average leisure traveler, so regulation is needed to ensure minimum comfort.

This reduction of passenger space in the quest for higher profits has created a critical situation -- by pushing the limits, not only of safety and comfort but of health as well. Being confined in a small seat for several hours can be life-threatening.

We urge readers to insist the FAA act now to stop the trend to smaller seats and jam-packed planes. You can have a say in what those standards will be.

"Tombstone mentality" is a mindset of ignoring design defects until people have died.

Looking at how passengers struggle now getting into and out of seats makes one wonder how they will escape in an emergency. One day, we will find that they cannot. Then, after hundreds of people have died, there might be a change.
Passengers can show their support for seat standards by contacting their representatives at: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
No, we're not advocating a nanny state. We're simply saying that government must insist airlines offer reasonable seating and traveling conditions.

It's time for governments to stand up to the airlines in the name of their people. This year more than 3.6 billion passengers will fly in 2016. That's almost half the world.
 


Our Acclaim:
  

 There is a great effort made by this country's elites to keep people complacent and out of touch - the public must be kept in line. To separate people from one another, because they are disruptive when together. 
They get ideas. They start to do things...

Support FlyersRights:

Getting on a Plane? 
Put This Number in Your Phone:
1 (877) Flyers6

The FlyersRights HOTLINE!

We publish weekly newsletters. There's no charge to receive any of them.  
  
Send your comments to the newsletter editor: kendallc@FlyersRights.org, or @KendallFlyers
FlyersRights.org, 4411 Bee Ridge Road, 274, Sarasota, FL 34233
Sent by kendallc@flyersrights.org in collaboration with
Constant Contact