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The Best of the Best

January 13, 2016  

Today we look back at the 10 most popular newsletters of 2015. What a year it was! So many victories big and small. So let’s jump right in.

Shame On You 

August 11, 2015

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 In 2015 we saw a many new terms coined: “Last Class”, “Stacked” or “Hexagon” seating, but our favorite was, “Hate Selling”.

Our most popular newsletter dealt with the shaming of customers into buying extra services during the online buying process.

Like used car salesmen, 2015 was all about upselling. Many of the US carriers have redesigned their websites to maximize the trickery to scare you into upgrading. 
Either via ‘Hate Selling’ or creating uncertainty about your choice of a ‘low cost’ basic ticket, the airlines have become experts at making you feel like a cheapskate.

They defend these change fees by insisting they also sell “fully refundable” tickets without the fees.

But who can afford paying four times the normal price for the ‘luxury’ of a refundable ticket? This argument is a sham that just creates a false appearance of choice.


The pop-up window you get when you choose a ‘a Delta ‘Basic’ price ticket. 
Agree to the evils and sign off on them.
Stop Fueling Around
January 27, 2015
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We asked this question last year, will the  airlines ever lower fares? 
Nope, said the experts, and they were right. No need to when they’re filling more than 85% of their seats at current prices. And, to add insult to injury, the airlines all hiked their fares last week. What ‘discipline’!  
FlyersRights demanded airlines reduce airfares and fuel surcharges in light of the dramatic drop in jet fuel prices last January. but it was an exercise in ‘fuel’tility.
We heard nothing but crickets from the airlines.
Of course, when fuel prices were sky-high, the airlines never missed any opportunity to tell passengers and the public about their suffering which led to the excuse for “unbundling” airfares, baggage fees, reservation fees and countless others.
No Exceptions
June 2, 2015 
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Our June newsletter about the airlines prohibiting mobile phone calls by passengers, even in an emergency, helped lead to a September DOT committee recommendation that airlines – not the federal government – should decide whether passengers can make phone calls during taxiing and flights.

n April 3, 2015, Karen Momsen-Evers, a Southwest Airlines passenger, received a text message from her husband shortly before her plane was to taxi that read, “Karen, please forgive me for what I am about to do, I  am going to kill myself…”  She told the flight attendants, who  refused to let her communicate with her husband. 
After the flight, she was informed by police that her husband had killed himself.
FlyersRights recommends advising the crew that you have a matter of life, and death and in a loud voice if necessary. Say you must be allowed to exit the plane, refuse to sit down, make a fuss so the pilot returns to the gate.  If you’re in the air, WIFi Skype calls are possible, and you can demand in writing and verbally the captain be made aware of your situation and need to communicate.  
TSA Gets An F
June 16, 2015
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The nation was in an uproar when a report leaked in June that said investigators from the Department of Homeland Security could easily slip weapons and fake bombs past airport screeners 95% of the time. FlyersRights declared that TSA is failing at every level.

We wait in long lines, in crowded  security checkpoints, shuffle along in socks, remove our belts, (what does TSA have against belts anyway?) and put our hands up in the body-scanner like we’re under arrest – for what?

Unfortunately, it’s a security blanket full of holes. 

                                                                Space Invaders
August 4, 2015
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We reported on the fraying state of civility in air travel and revolution brewing at 30,000 feet.

The moving of seats closer and closer together, reducing the number flights per route, all to keep flights as packed as possible is leading to more stressed passengers and air rage.
The number of stories in the news about planes diverting due to violence onboard is up. Violence brought on by increasing stressers of overbooked of flights, sardining and bumping of passengers, endless fees, limited space for carry-ons and the ever-diminishing value of frequent flyer programs.

FlyersRights spoke in this newsletter with the inventor of the ‘Knee Defender’ about the powerful appeal of vigilante justice with this product.

Power Failure
September 16, 2015
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United Airlines’ CEO, Jeff Smisek was ousted -and we’re Shocked! Shocked! -at how long it took.
Things have not gone well for United in recent years – once known for its white-glove service back in the ’80s and ’90s, even in coach.  
But in 2015 the news was all about its severe cost cutting and giving $320 million inprofits to its shareholders.

Unfit For Flight
September 22, 2015

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Over the objections of Flyersrights, the FAA choose to ‘study’ not act on the problem of helicopter manufacturers ignoring air crash safety measures for new helicopters.

Helicopters are 85 times more dangerous than autos and 350 times more dangerous than travel by airliner.

Over 20 years ago, the FAA issued regulations requiring safer helicopter designs to improve air crash safety.

However, the fatality rate has not improved because only 10-16% of the fleet have  safety devices needed to prevent fires and ensure crash-worthiness survivability.
On average, there is a civilian helicopter accident three times per week and one fatality per week.

Sorry, We Think
October 6, 2015
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Just give us a few inches of legroom back in coach and we’ll call it even.
That was the weary public sentiment to United Airlines’ new CEO Oscar Munoz’s hangdog face in ads and video in October during his apology tour for “failing their employees and customers”.

Apparently, in the past five years, there were no problems noticed in the executive suites. Only after the previous CEO got caught up in a New Jersey corruption scandal about some lane closings, were Jeff Smisek’s problems noticed.
This sort of apology is too silly to even comprehend. 
Will an apology get passengers more leg room, or good customer service? Will it stop the unlawful collusion to fix prices and cut services?
Will it keep the airlines from calling a flight cancellation “weather” when the reason is maintenance? Will it stop the airlines from turning a profit on your lost luggage and crippled mileage program? 
No, we didn’t think so. 
Due to Mr. Munoz’s recent heart transplant, it’s unclear if his customer service overhaul will continue into the future.
DVT – Preventing Airline Passengers’ Biggest Danger
November 17, 2015
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In November, singer and dancer Tamar Braxton, 38, stunned fans when she announced that due to blood clots, allegedly caused by frequent flights, she will leave Dancing With The Stars.
It’s a reminder that DVT (deep vein thrombosis) can easily strike the young and fit.
We’ve known for a long time that passengers’ risk of DVT (also knows as economy class syndrome) is high on long-haul flights of over three hours. 
DVT is caused by immobility over a sustained period and claims the lives of a number of airline passengers each year.
People who fly four hours or more, the World Health Organization found, have three times the risk of developing clots compared with periods when they did not travel. 
The blood clot is, in medical-speak, a deep vein thrombosis. If it stays in the leg it can cause stiffness and pain, but if it moves up the body it can cause real trouble.

Shake a leg! 

Airlines Attack 3-Hour Rule
January 6, 2015
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While no one was looking, a few days before Christmas, the airlines launched a sneak attack against FlyersRights’ Three-Hour Tarmac Rule.

They had their henchmen over at MIT/Dartmouth’s ‘Global Airline Industry Program’ release a new paper bashing our landmark ruling. It stated that the Three-Hour Tarmac Rule actually leads to more passenger delays.

The study was also timed to convince both Congress and the DOT to extend the rule to three and a half hours and reduce the fines imposed – which does nothing to help airline passengers.

Instead it would allow the airlines more flexibility to oversaturate airport schedules and prevent passenger migration in the event of a long ground delay.

FlyersRights has a history with this MIT/Dartmouth avionics program – which is funded by the airlines. We testified against them in Congress back in 2009 when fighting to pass the Three-Hour Tarmac Delay Rule.  
Passengers overwhelmingly state that they’d rather be delayed inside the airport, where they can advocate for themselves and find alternative transportation, than be stuck, helpless inside a plane.

Our Acclaim:



 Help us pass new rules to require airlines to live up to their obligation to treat their customers fairly.
Airline passengers have rights!

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