The Plane Facts
         Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Newark Airport, Oct. 4, 201


That’s where many of us find ourselves.

Whether we’re boarding a plane or simply traveling through an airport. We are a nation that feels a bit on edge.
Ebola was the furthest thing from our minds a month ago, even as the disease spread through parts of West Africa. The American public easily dismissed it as an exotic ailment confined to the underdeveloped world.
So it has been incredible, if not alarming, to see how easily global travel can spread pathogens from continent to continent.  
In August the world’s airlines moved to cut most flights to West Africa, but planes continue to fly out of Ebola impacted countries.
Just over the weekend the U.S. saw its second Ebola case confirmed, a Boston hospital evacuated and an LAX plane locked down when a passenger became sick.   
Take a Fortress USA or Fortress Europe Strategy?   
Although the U.S. has not yielded to calls for a travel ban, enhanced screening began Saturday of passengers arriving from West Africa at five major gateway airports: JFK, Newark, O’Hare, Dulles and Atlanta. 
Infrared screening of passengers
This week, Heathrow, Gatwick and Israel’s Ben Gurion airport will follow the U.S. with airport screenings for Ebola.
African and Asian countries have been screening airline passengers for months, with some using infrared cameras to detect fevers. 
But mainland Europe will 
not follow, claiming the measures are ineffective, because people carrying the virus won’t necessarily be spotted.  
Travelers from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the countries hardest hit by Ebola, will also be questioned about about their health, travel and contact with the sick, and have their temperatures taken. Quarantine is an option for those suspected of being ill.
Most experts agree that these screenings are unlikely to stop the disease, as it can take up to 21 days for someone to show signs of Ebola and desperate people can lie on the questionnaire. 
Can TSA agents handle being doctors for $12/hour?
an style=”font-family: Verdana, sans-serif;”>The screenings, which will affect only a tiny fraction of overall passengers, are being conducted by the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP), under direction of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Currently there are no direct flights from the affected countries to the U.S., so CBP staff identify passengers to screen by looking at trip information and checking passports, the CBP commissioner told a news conference at JFK on Saturday morning.
Using infrared temperature guns, staff are checking for elevated temperatures among passengers whose journeys began or included a stop in one of the three African countries.
Screeners will also assess passengers for signs of illness and ask about their health and whether they may have come into contact with an Ebola patient.
This ‘controlled openness’ is called a compromise. It isn’t as tight a seal as a rigid ‘travel ban’ or ‘quarantine’, but it allows a certain higher risk of exposure in exchange for a higher level of freedom of movement.
Most airlines have cut service to West African countries, and the few remaining: Royal Air Maroc, Air France and Brussels Airlines are reportedly charging exorbitant ticket prices and price-gouging humanitarian aid workers.
Bringing in Ebola by the Planeload?
As always, the flying public is reliant on the quality and reliability of the information available.
Ebola screening for arrivals from West Africa starts at JFK 
Ebola screening for arrivals from West Africa
“At this point there is zero risk of transmission on flights,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, supporting other public health officials who have voiced similar assurances, saying Ebola is spread only through physical contact with a symptomatic individual or their bodily fluids. 
“Ebola is not transmitted by the air. It is not an airborne infection,” said Dr. Edward Goodman of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where the Liberian patient remains in critical condition.
Public health officials and some columnists have voiced similar assurances, saying Ebola is spread only through physical contact with a symptomatic individual or their bodily fluids.
However, Dr. Philip K. Russell, a virologist who oversaw Ebola research while heading the U.S. Army’s Medical Research and Development Command, and who later led the government’s massive stockpiling of smallpox vaccine after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said much was still to be learned. “Being dogmatic is, I think, ill-advised, because there are too many unknowns here.”
Statement by the President of FlyersRights:
It is time to stop West Africans and others from the infected countries from entering the U.S. without quarantines and blood testing for Ebola.
Airlines who knowingly transport passengers from the infected areas may face massive lawsuits, and their insurance carriers, especially AIG the main carrier, also need to step forward before it too late.

The FAA and TSA cannot escape responsibility as they have primary jurisdiction over air safety and security. Ebola is being transported to the U.S. solely by air transport. 

The death and infection rates are so horrendous that decisive measures are essential regardless of sensitivities.

Paul Hudson
President, FlyersRights

Your Letters
(In response to last week’s newsletter, ‘Foreign Invasion’)
Dear FlyersRights:
You complain about horrific service from US airlines, then praise the possibility of an airline such as RyanAir coming to the US. Are you aware that RyanAir’s service is SO atrocious that riots occur among pissed off passengers on their planes on a regular basis?

This is an airline that is trying to eliminate safety requirements, such as seats and seatbelts on on their planes. If they had their way, their planes would be packed like sardine cans of STANDING ROOM ONLY.

RyanAir already puts passengers at risk by not allowing their planes to carry adequate fuel reserves. This has caused some RyanAir flights to have to declare an emergency because they ran dangerously low on fuel.

RyanAir also pushed to have PAY TOILETS installed on their planes. So far that has not come to fruition. However, they DO try to make their travelers go to the toilet 20 minutes prior to flight (to save weight, reduce costs).

Is this REALLY what you want for the US airline industry?  Be careful of what you wish for… You just might get it!

Dear NF,  no we don’t want that, but it’s disingenuous to say Ryanair stinks when U.S. carriers have reduced themselves to that of a Ryanair – by strangling capacity, cutting flights, packing planes, contracting out customer service and charging the same fees as Ryanair.
Additionally, U.S. carriers have successfully kept airfares high and charging fees while Ryanair charges a much lower base price before adding on fees.

In short, U.S. carriers have copied the king of a-la-carte pricing, without reducing their fares.

Look at air ticket prices around Europe. A two-week advance fare from London to Frankfurt – 498 miles – on Ryanair is £19 GBP ($30.50).

A two-week advance fare on a major U.S. carrier, for about the same distance – San Diego to San Francisco, 493 miles – runs approximately $242.

Everyone wants to be profitable, but isn’t as if the employes of these U.S. carriers are reaping the benefits of higher ticket prices. Their salaries and benefits have been steadily chipped away over the years. It’s the shareholders and CEOs who are reaping the rewards.


Kendall Creighton
Dear FlyersRights,
My wife and 3 yr. old son were on United 763 from Dallas to Denver they delayed the flight 2hrs causing them to miss the connection from Denver (DIA) to Gypsum (EGE) the next flight was 24hrs later.  

This caused us both a day off work and a gas mileage trip 200 miles to collect them with our 1 yr. old the next day and a hotel room for them both (United wouldn’t cover the flight and said “tough’ on the phone.  So basically we end up out of pocket 2 days work, 200 miles *2 driving and 1 hotel room, United Airlines loose nothing and still have the full price for the ticket.
Thanks for advice.
Dear PSR,
There is generally no compensation in the US for excessively delayed or cancelled flights unlike in Europe, Canada or international flights.
The normal damages for breach of contact when one party fails to perform is the out of pocket cost to cover the default and sometimes foreseeable consequential damages.
US airlines with the cooperation of the DOT have of course exempted themselves from all these pesky responsibilities. Airlines use to allow you to fly with your ticket on another airline or provide alternate transportation by ground and would usually pay for lodging and food for stranded passengers, but no more.
You can, however, receive a full refund even on a non refundable ticket if you decline to take an excessively delayed flight. I recently had a Jetblue flight canceled in Sarasota to JFK that would have caused me to miss an international connection. The counter agent tried to say that they could only give me a voucher. When I insisted on a full refund the supervisor had to show her how to process an “involuntary refund” which was obviously a very rare transaction for this and most airlines. We then got another flight to LaGuardia on another airline for a higher price, a cab ride and a dash to just make our connection.
Our Airline
Passenger Bill of Rights 2.0
 would fix this and we suggest you contact your Congressional reps to demand they support and sponsor fair rights for airline passengers. Otherwise it will only get worse.
Paul Hudson
President, FlyersRights

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                                    with Paul Hudson, President


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