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Family Feud 
Divide and Conquer

May 4, 2016

Great news, summer travelers! The airlines have big deals for you.

Photo: Mark Lennihan AP

If you and the kids are headed off to Hawaii, Disneyland or wherever, the airlines won’t make any effort to seat you next to each other – unless you pay a fee!
Being seated together is no longer a regular service, but a frill!
This action is befalling millions of airline passengers who are realizing the posted fare of a ticket is not the half of it.

Umpteen fees get added for items that previously were included in your “Contract of Carriage” – for example: baggage fees, food and drinks, movies, headsets, free choice/family seating and bonus miles!

However, the airlines have repackaged these and they are now an untaxed revenue stream for the airlines.

In 2015 the airlines had a profit of $33 billion due to fees, fuel surcharge and an endless list of “comforts” for the passenger!


We used to call this nickel-and-diming, except the extra charges are way more than nickels and dimes. To get “family seat reservations,” Delta can squeeze you for $88, each way

What often happens is, for example, you book your flight months in advance, and group your family seats together. Then -BAM! your airline changed the plane or the time and and you’re not seated together. The airline either tries to upsell you on new seats together or directs you to the gate agent to fix. Then you get to the gate and they say ask the people around you to switch.
Well, good luck with that.

Such wanton skyway robbery. How do they do it? By conspiring together to suppress any real customer choice – and by lobbying congressmembers with generous campaign donations to keep them from meddling with their cartel.

While the price of jet fuel has plunged, passengers still get fleeced by a fuel surcharge fee that adds up to a completely-unjustified multibillion-dollar  corporate jackpot – sucked right out of our pockets, according to a recent HuffingtonPost article. (Editor’s note: Attention readers, feel free to comment on this article and advertise that FlyersRights has been a watchdog on this for years).

Only four major airlines remain due to numerous mergers. American, Delta, Southwest, and United – now control 85 percent of capacity, and most of our airports are dominated by only one of the Big Four, leaving fliers at their pricing mercy.  

The airlines’ lobbying group, Airlines for America, told USA Today that US airlines are “putting every dollar to work for customers, employees and investors.”

That is ludicrous. Have you seen any of these improvements? The fact remains, passengers are seeing little improvement and are being squeezed even more.  
Those who say we should run government like a business must not be airline passengers.

Is there a tipping point at which consumer discontent about price gouges turns to rebellion? FlyersRights thinks so. The flying public has had it up to here with fees.

Call To Action – TransAtlantic Competition

Dear members: We encourage you to file comments with the DOT, and cc: us at FlyersRights will submit formal comments this week.

On April 15, 2016 the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) tentatively approved Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) application for a foreign air carrier permit under the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement. Much is at stake for individual consumers and large buyers of commercial air services, and your support – in the DOT docket and elsewhere – is critical at this juncture to bring competition to the transatlantic market. A final decision is expected after DOT evaluates additional industry and public comments. The DOT docket will remain open for submissions until May 23, 2016.

A favorable, final NAI decision is exceedingly important as the U.S. airline industry has radically consolidated in recent years – especially in the transatlantic market where three antitrust-immunized alliances control 80 percent of the seats. Conversely, failing to approve NAI means higher fares and less consumer choice. NAI would inject new competition driving fares lower and increasing service to underserved communities. More strategically, as consumers embrace and NAI proves out its long-haul, low-cost business model, other low-cost carriers in the U.S. and abroad will no doubt seek to emulate NAI’s long-haul success further increasing competition and fostering innovative service levels.

Opponents to NAI are already actively filing comments in the DOT docket. Your interests need to be represented in the docket as well. What’s more, the opposition seeks to block NAI through Congressional intervention. On April 28, 2016, H.R. 5090 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives as a bill to undermine the DOT and override the legal determinations of the Departments of Justice and State in supporting DOT’s decision to tentatively approve NAI’s application (see BTC press release at Proponents are aggressively seeking co-sponsors to this bill, which is intended to kill NAI’s application.

I urge you to weigh in with DOT and the U.S. House and safeguard the strategic interests of your organization. Appended below for your perusal are the key points that you may want to consider in acting to make your voice heard to DOT and your Representative in Congress. This is a very time-sensitive matter.


1) A simple letter can be filed in the DOT docket at, or you can send your letter to me and I will be happy to file it for you.  If filing in the docket, click on any of the boxes that say, “comment now.”
2) Your letter to DOT can be shared with Congress with the additional alert (near the beginning) to your Representative NOT to co-sponsor H.R. 5090. Contact information for your Representative in Congress can be found at . An email is most effective, followed by a fax or phone call.
3) Please consider forwarding this communication to your clients, members, subscribers, travelers and colleagues in other companies/organizations.
Thank you for your continuing support. We will prevail!

Kevin Mitchell

Business Travel Coalition
Phone: (610) 999-9247

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