The Airline Passenger Bill Of Rights Goes To Washington
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
We are raining letters on Capitol Hill this week!

FlyersRights is showering lawmakers with our new Airline Passenger Bill of Rights.
Every Senator and Congressperson will receive a survey outlining our proposal to improve consumer protections for airline passengers; ranging from seat space, to fee standards, to frequent flyer regulations.
This plan will be a game-changer for travelers and the airline industry.
We will publish the results of this survey on or about March 4th, 2014, by press release, press conference and in our weekly newsletter that goes to our 30,000 members.Our proposals have been circulated to Aviation Subcommittees, House and Senate full committees and Homeland Security committees over the past several months, as well as to DOT, the FAA and other national consumer and air travel groups.FlyersRights has received overwhelming support from our members, travel media commentators and many other consumer groups.There has been no opposition, except of course from the airline industry, which has been reduced to four major carriers, (American, Delta, United and Southwest) controlling 85% of all domestic flights.

Nearly all members of Congress are frequent flyers, so they have likely experienced many of the problems that our proposals address -as have their constituents.

We encourage you to contact your Senators and Congressional
Representatives to return the survey promptly. Don’t be a passenger rights no-show!

A Reminder Of Why We Need Passenger Rights:
Ryanair Passengers Call Police To Leave Plane After 11-Hour Delay
Angry passengers on a Ryanair flight called police during an 11-hour delay in which the airline was accused of keeping them trapped on a plane at London Stansted Airport with no food or water.
Mutiny on flight FR8347
Travelers were stuck on the Valentine’s Day flight to Porto, Portugal for nearly four hours and told that they could not disembark for “security reasons”, according to a video posted on YouTube.
Ryanair apologized only after the video went viral.
Exhausted, the passengers said they asked the cabin crew for food and water but were refused, the Daily Mail reported.
When their patience snapped, passengers confronted cabin crew, with many phoning police. One passenger claimed up to 50 calls were made.


In the video, passengers can be seen begging the cabin crew for assistance. ‘There is nothing to eat or drink,’ one man shouts to a male steward. ‘You are ignoring your passengers who are asking for help. Aren’t you flight attendants? Is everybody crazy?’
A woman passenger says: ‘You won’t let us eat or drink even if we pay? We can’t leave the aircraft either?’ Another pleads: ‘There is a baby on board.’ The video claims the passengers asked for food, water and for the air conditioning to be turned on at 1am, but that this was refused.
A police car with flashing lights was filmed outside the aircraft before an officer tells passengers they will be allowed to leave the plane.
No matter how cheap the ticket is, it never gives an airline the right to treat people like this. Ryanair treated its passengers like animals.
Astonishingly, Ryanair is one of Europe’s largest airline operations, flying 600 routes (as per their website), most of them daily, many of them multiple flights per day.
Ryanair flouted the basic contract of carriage rules. This has happened many times here in the US, which is why you need an organization like FlyersRights!

NYTimes Story Features Wins By 
Yesterday’s New York Times featured a nice article about FlyersRights’ victories over the years.  Please read it here.
Asiana Fined $500,000 For Failing To Help Families After July Crash 
Asiana Airlines was fined $500,000 Tuesday for failing to assist passengers and their families in the aftermath of last year’s SFO crash.
The DOT says the airline took as long as five days to notify family members and failed to provide other federally-required assistance. Read More: CNN

Your Letters: 
Re. The Airline Passenger Bill of Rights

Being a frequent traveler I agree with the stated Bill of Rights and would expect that as a paying customer we would be entitled to fair treatment by the airlines and respected as individuals with our own set of obligations and commitments, for example, to be arrive at a destination at an expected time.
I want the further respect of having adequate no
tice of flight cancellations or serious delays so that I may make alternative travel plans.
I agree with the comment that the aisles on planes should have a regulated width.  Last April, I had a bad experience on Virgin Atlantic to London for my annual trip for work there.I bought the least expensive seat and discovered when I got there that Virgin had made the aisles narrower in the cheap seats.  When I got to the back where the cheap seats are, I could no longer roll my bag, which is 16-1/2 inches wide, through the aisle.  Going, I left my bag by the first seat and put my other bag in my seat, then I went back and carried the rolling bag to my seat.  Returning, I followed the instructions that if I needed help with my luggage I should wait until others had left and get assistance.  The steward who was standing near me, and turned out to be the Head Steward, was very rude after I explained that I could not roll the bag out as the aisle was narrower than in the next group of seats.  He denied this repeatedly and then was so angry that I did not kowtow that he dropped my bag on the floor and made a female flight attendant help me out.  I tried to complain to Virgin through frequent flyer (which I am,) through the regular website.  Impossible.  They even have a notice that if you have a complaint, complain to the DOT.I was angry enough by then to go to their Facebook page and post my complaint for others to read, calling him out by name and purported title.  Of course, some PR guy denied that there was a problem, so I posted again, he denied again, and I posted again.  Unfortunately, nobody sees a post if they are not on FB at the time made, because it scrolls into oblivion.Now, I will probably use up some points in April 2014 to get a better seat, then seek another airline for my 2015 flight.

The idea to have a comprehensive bill like the one in the EU is good, though it should be tweaked for the US problems.

Thanks for all you do.


In response to Let Us Change Your Plans
This has happened to me more times than I can remember. As a business traveler, we had a trip in 2011 where we were shooting (I’m a photographer) an ad campaign for a cruise line sailing from Rome. There were 13 of us traveling. In total, on this trip, there were 13 changes in schedule, late departures and cancelled flights. One model arrived a day late due to schedule change and had to be rerouted via train to Florence at a cost of over $500 to have her meet the ship. My two assistants were rerouted due to schedule change and arrived the morning of the sailing. On a $180,000 photo shoot, these changes cost lots of money and potentially could halt production. We leave for France next month to photograph a different cruise line sailing and we scheduled our flights a day early to insure we will not miss the sailing. This extra day “insurance” against schedule changes and late departures comes at a cost – meals, hotel, crew day fees, etc. We also made sure to book 4 hour minimum layovers to pad for late departures and possible missed connections.In 2009, four months before a trip, my flight on Delta to Athens was changed by two days due to a route change. As a photographer for Starwood Hotels at the time, we had booked very hard to get employee rates at our hotels. And a flight to Santorini on Aegean Air. The hotels could not be changed due to availability and the Aegean flight had a change fee if I changed it. I had to change my Delta flight to an Air France flight two days later departure. At that time, Delta allowed two free checked bags, but the policy was changing to one. After changing my flight, they refused me the two bags because the flight was changed after the new one bag policy went into effect, regardless that the original flight was booked under the two bag policy. My Air France flight was changed three more times before our trip, and we ended up having to pay to change the Aegean Air flight and lost two days of our vacation as well as having to rebook part of our hotel reservations at a higher cost and at a hotel much further from the city center.My dad and I booked AA flights to Kauai, first class for November 2013. In June we were informed the flight was changing due to route changes and we would connect in Dallas after our connecting flight would have already departed. After hours on the phone, I was given the only option to overnight in Dallas or to change our dates by one week and depart at 9pm instead of 2pm for our return flight. That flight was later changed to 10pm and again later to 11pm. This put us arriving home at 4:30pm instead of the original 6am.
In early September (2013) my husband and I booked business-class mileage tickets with fee/taxes on British Air amounting to $1086 EACH person round trip, San Jose CA to Stuttgart Germany. We can’t even reserve our seats on the British Air flights (O’Hare to Heathrow, Heathrow to Stuttgart and return until 24 hours in advance). Of course, we can on the San Jose to O’Hare portion because that is on an AA flight. 
About a month ago, I noticed that the portion of our itinerary was missing, so I called AA, through which we booked (online). That’s when I found out that instead of arriving in Stuttgart at 8:30am, we would arrive at 6:30PM, sitting around Heathrow for 8 hours, instead of sleeping and walking around Stuttgart. Because British Air changed their flight from O’Hare an hours later so that we would miss the a.m. flight from Heathrow to Stuttgart and instead get to wait for the late afternoon flight.


At least we didn’t have to change hotel reservations. We did have to adjust our car rental reservation. It could have been worse, but this wasn’t the reservation I booked. We might have selected a different flight to avoid the 8-hr layover at Heathrow.


Second, I did try to change a flight I booked with AA for April, but it would cost $200, so I am keeping it. However, if they change that timing after Daylight Savings’ Time change, I could be in for the $200, as I have paid for a bus tour so that I cannot fly earlier that day. Wait and see. Stay tuned.


I am glad you are tackling this issue because it has created havoc in my flights before. I don’t even understand why these adjustments are necessary. They make NO sense to me.


I realize that my situation is not as dire as many. I hope you are able to get some of these changes stopped.


Good luck, and thanks for being there.


In response to No Snow Job:
The dumbest thing about those exit pods is that a much simpler and cheaper solution exists — one-way revolving doors, like they have at DFW, and Terminal T at Atlanta Hartsfield. No claustrophobic pod, but no chance of anyone entering where they’re not allowed.
Just to let you know that a change because of the merger of American and U.S. Airways has already been announced which will affect many passengers in one BIG negative way. Using the Amex Platinum card, passengers on American have access to the Admiral’s Airport Club. We were just informed that as of March 22, we will no longer have that complimentary access. I called Amex Platinum and asked whose decision that was and was told it was solely the airline’s choice, not Amex. I then told them I object since that Club is used by my wife and I both with our Amex Platinum cards.
I also then filed a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General’s office writing that they were correct to object to the intended merger and that I thought passengers were already getting worse treatment by the merged airlines. I expect the official Attorney General’s complaint I created to be passed on to the airline with little if anything coming of it, but my wife and I both have the Amex Platinum cards and were quite annoyed over this change.  Again, we just wanted you to know, and are not asking for any action on your part. As always, thank you for helping those who fly the ‘so-called friendly skies’.
Re: “Weather” Cancellations 
Has ever looked into the un-necesary cancelation of flights by airlines?  Now instead of being trapped on the tarmak passengers are trapped at airports for days.  And the airlines have their get out of jail free card (it was due to “weather”).  I would be curious to kow how many of these “weather” cancellations were really due to a full crew not being there, or a plane being diverted to a more important destination, leaving thousands stranded at airports for days over this Christmas holiday season.  Something to think about.
Thank you,


The “coding” of flights has been a thorn in our side since day one.
Contractually the airlines owe the passengers nothing if it’s a “Force Majeure”  or “Act of God” which all weather falls under.  Trouble is I have evidence that the airlines change their flight codings every day, and my evidence goes so far as to prove that air traffic control related codings are mostly complete lies and the employees of the airlines get bonused on the ratio of flight delays and cancellations that are coded or changed coding that benefit the airline meaning changing a mechanical to weather delay or cancellation etc.
Simply put:  Airline employees, station managers and customer service agents at each airport change codings several times a day so that they don’t have to compensate passengers.
Kate Hanni
founder emeritus, FlyersRights
Just to show how FR really ‘helped’. Friends of ours were flying from ITO to LAX and were sitting on the runway while United tried to fix something.
At three hours, the pilot said, we have to cancel the flight.
First class passengers got their hotel paid for; the others didn’t.
They were rebooked to leave the next day on the fixed plane.
The pilot clearly indicated that he cancelled the flight only because of the three hour rule.
Yay, FR
The 3 hour rule says aircraft stuck on tarmac must be returned within 3 hours to terminal to allow passengers to deplane if they wish.  
If this aircraft that had mechanical problems that were fixable within 3 or even more hours, it could still have taken off.   
It is self serving and probably a misrepresentation for the airline to blame the 3 hour rule rather than equipment or maintenance failure for a flight cancellation, since this minimizes their financial liability.  
Also, pilots generally have a financial incentive to leave the gate and not return as long as possible since they receive “flight pay” at $100+ per hour for sitting on the tarmac away from terminal vs. virtually nothing for “standing by” at the gate or in the terminal.
Paul Hudson
President, FlyersRights
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Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights
Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights
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