August 24, 2018 | Kendall Creighton It’s deja vu all over again. As Hurricane Lane descended on Hawaii, it brought back bad memories of last year’s price gouging after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey – which devastated Texas, Louisiana and Florida. U.S. airlines have been called out on Twitter for charging several thousand dollars for one-way tickets out of the danger zone – following the fine tradition of shady convenience stores raising gas prices from $3 to $14 per gallon the day before a storm hits. The president of FlyersRights.org, Paul Hudson, said, “The outrageous pricing being quoted by airlines to escape a hurricane shows, for the fourth time since 2017, what happens when airlines are exempt from state anti-gouging laws.” “And their sole regulator, the U.S. DOT refuses to act. Under state anti-price-gouging, a business is prohibited and may be subject to criminal penalties for charging, say, $50 for a gallon of gas.” Flyer Beware Consumers spent nearly $3 billion on travel insurance in 2016. Now, Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, is demanding answers from the travel insurance industry. A report from his office warns consumers aren’t getting the protection they paid for. The senator is sending letters to insurers this week, reports CBS News. Of course, insurance policies of all kinds can contain so much fine print that they end up benefiting very few, mainly the insurance companies themselves. Let’s not even get started on medical insurance. Nearly all major U.S. airlines and online booking sites sell travel insurance and usually require consumers to click yes or no to purchasing it before being allowed to book a trip, a review by Markey’s office found. His report found “questionable travel insurance marketing practices for policies that offer minimal coverage and often erect hurdles to the payment of claims.” “Consumers are being tipped upside down, money is shaken out of their pockets, and it’s split between the airlines and the insurance companies, and it’s just plain wrong,” Markey said. The Case of the Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat: Ready for Round 2! Last week, FlyersRights.org filed its highly anticipated formal response to the FAA’s second refusal to set minimum seat size standards on commercial aircraft. FlyersRights.org filed a nine page response and a declaration by its President, Paul Hudson at https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FAA-2015-4011. FlyersRights.org called the FAA’s evidence into question, arguing that it was incomplete, misleading, and unrealistic. The FAA maintains that seat pitch and seat size does not pose safety concerns – using evidence from the full scale emergency evacuation demonstrations performed by the aircraft manufacturers. FlyersRights.org initially filed the rulemaking petition with the FAA on August 27, 2015. The FAA denied the petition in February of 2016, citing to studies it would not release, and to this day has not released. On July 27. 2017, a three judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously granted FlyersRights.org‘s request in part and remanded the case back to the FAA to provide a reasoned basis for its decision. The FAA released its decision on the public docket on July 2, 2018, providing five short videos from airplane manufacturers and a declaration from a technical FAA employee, Jeffrey Gardlin. The docket number for this case is FAA-2015-4011 at www.regulations.gov. Action Alert! Passengers concerned about airline shrinking seats should file comments online at Regulations.gov, docket number FAA-2015-4011.