Tuesday, December 22, 2015

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We Wish All Our Members & Readers A Happy & Joyous Holiday Season & New Year

December 22, 2015 
You're a mean one ... 

Your Letters! 

Dear FlyersRights,

I have a nice AA story to tell.

My niece is a student at Baylor University in Texas.  When she got to the airport for her code-share hopper flight from WACO Texas, she didn't have her identification or 25.00 for her checked baggage.

The check-in attendant made it possible for her to get into the airport without her identification, and in addition she pulled 25.00 out of her own pocket for her one checked bag since Aspen didn't have any money to pay for it.

This check-in lady was Terri Heaton an American Airlines employee.

I would like you to tell this positive story in the next newsletter if possible.  It's a rare opportunity to tell an arrogant airline like AA thank you for having a great employee who was willing to use heroics and her own money to allow this precious young student to fly!

Happy Holidays!


Hi Karina, (writer cc:ed FlyersRights on a letter to Silver Airways)

I do not accept your opinion:

"As it stands, your tickets, with the information you provided, displayed no baggage allowance or free pieces to check."

Please look again at the attachments. I will argue that they are a part of the contract. They are discrepant with the verbiage you sent me, but are contractual terms regardless.

You must honor that. It is not my responsibility to read pages of fine print , looking for contradictions to the up front bold print. There is no reference or conditions in my attachments. It clearly states bags are free. This is an issue of principal. I paid $2,273.90 for two first class tickets. For that contractual fee, I expect exceptional service, nothing less. I am copying Flyers Rights on this issue.

My contract (attached) is clear. It has no disclaimers in it, therefor, since you sub contract with United, you must honor United's apparent mistake in producing contradictions. In such a situation the small print is not legal and is not valid. Check with your lawyers, my suggestion, issue me a refund, take no retaliatory action against me or I will contest the charge. Get your $50 from United & tell them to fix their contractual conflicts. You really don't want a class action law suit on this. Give me my $50, apologize for the inconvenience, and I will forget it.

By the way, this happened last year to me, same exact situation. I took no action figuring it was a mistake that would be corrected. I was wrong. You really owe me $100. Give me a $50 & I'll walk.


From: Silver Airways Corp 
Sent: Friday, December 18, 2015 4:40 PM 
Subject: Re: charge dispute

Good afternoon Mr. D-,

Thank you for reaching out to us with your concern regarding baggage fees paid with us. Upon review of your claim, unfortunately, your refund request cannot be granted. In regards to interline baggage fees, this is stated on United Airlines' contract of carriage:

I) Interline Baggage Acceptance

...c) Where UA is a Participating Carrier or is not the Selected Carrier on an interline itinerary but is an Interlining Carrier that is providing transportation to the passenger based on ticket issued, UA will apply the Selected Carrier's baggage rules throughout the Interline Itinerary.

3) Disclosure of Baggage Rules - For baggage rules provisions related to a passenger's first and second checked bag and the passenger's carry-on baggage (i.e., the passenger's "standard" baggage allowance), when UA sells and issues a ticket for an interline itinerary, it will disclose to the passenger on a summary page at the end of an online purchase and/or on the passenger's e-ticket receipt at the time of ticketing, the baggage information relevant to the passenger's itinerary and the applicable baggage rules of the Selected Carrier. (page 33-34).

Therefore, as stated previously, we cannot grant your refund request as baggage items are subject to a charge on interline flights. We would like to suggest, if you decide to travel on an interline airline under United Airlines ticket, to contact United to make sure that in your ticket they apply your baggage allowance. In this instance, upon check in with the other airline, no charges will be applied. As it stands, your tickets, with the information you provided, displayed no baggage allowance or free pieces to check.

I do apologize for this inconvenience as it was a pleasure to serve you. Thank you.
United Airlines Contract of Carriage:


Silver Airways 
Guest Relations Team 

Dear Flyers Rights,
Thanks for the update on compensation rights.  Would you have a link to a website that gives more information on exactly what compensation is due in what circumstances?  For example, due to mechanical issues on my first flight, I missed my international connection.  I was re-routed but got to my destination about five and a half hours later than my original routing. 

Was I entitled to compensation and, if so, how much?  It would be useful to have a link to a site that helps passengers determine that, particularly when standing in front of the airline representative!
You might also want to suggest to your members that, when they do receive compensation, they should consider giving all or a portion of it to FlyersRights.  Most of us would not have even known to ask for it except for your efforts.  And, I love the irony of using an airline's money to fund a passenger rights organization!!!  It just seems fitting!!
Thanks for all you do.

Hello Peter,

It is often difficult to get the airlines to actually pay the required compensation.  We advise using one of the services that attempt to collect for you for a percentage of the compensation due.  They have a great track record of collecting with success rates of 98 percent.  One of these services is EuClaim, which can be found at www.euclaim.com .  Another is Refund me.https://www.refund.me .  Best of luck in your attempt to collect your compensation.


Joel J Smiler DVM
Hotline Director
Dear FlyersRights:

Just a note of another crazy flight experience.  I am a Diamond Medallion Flyer with Delta Airlines and am approaching 3 million miles, therefore you know the pain I have felt in the past and frustration with numerous flight experiences.  However I had a new one this past weekend which actually was a first.

My wife and I had booked first class tickets for a short visit to New York, LaGuardia airport on Delta.  Our flight back was to depart at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday December 6, 2015 flight 1131.  We had booked this flight so we could have breakfast and take out time getting to the airport.

On Saturday around noon, Dec 5 I received a change in schedule from Delta telling me my flight was now 8:54 a.m. and had been moved up.  I called Delta and they told me it was an equipment change and they needed to get the plane to Ft Lauderdale and flight was moved up 2.25 Hrs.

I attempted to print my boarding pass which gave me a flight time of 11:00 a.m., no change.  I called again and the agent told me flight was 11:00 a.m. I told her I received an e mail for 8:54, she checked and got back with me and indicted that I was right, system was delayed and had not yet updated new flight time.

I called a third time at 9:00 p.m. that evening and was again told flight was at 8:54 a.m.  Not believing anything I am told by an airline, I called at 6:00 a.m. Dec 6 prior to leaving for airport, and although the flight still showed 11:00 a.m. on my ticket and Delta site, Deltas own site contradicted that information and showed the flight leaving at 8:54 a.m. on the ticketing site (Delta).  SO, we left for the airport, and upon checking in was told it was 11:00 a.m.

I showed the ticket agent my e mail from Delta, at which time two other individuals behind me, apparently hearing my conversation, indicated they were on the same flight and received the same information.

The ticket agent then made a few calls after typing for about 5 minutes, typing what I have no idea, and then said we were right flight is scheduled for 8:54. a.m., PROVIDING enough passengers received the message. WHAT????????????????????  What the hell does that mean?

We all proceeded to gate of course gate was empty of agents but plane sitting there.

At 7:40 a.m. I then received another e mail from Delta indicating the flight was 11:00 a.m.  At this time about 30-40 people were at gate.  Of course we would be at airport since the flight time is set for 8:54 a.m.

Deltas excuse??????????????????  No idea how this happened.  Gate agents had no information.

I asked crew when I got on plane what time they were told this flight was:  Answer:  11:00 a.m.  They received no information of a flight change.

Typical airline run around and total incompetence.  Every person on this flight should receive full compensation, plus 10.


Hi R-,

I urge you to report this to the DOT at www.dot.gov/airconsumer and to send an email to this Delta VP.

Charisse Evans
Vice President, Reservations and Customer Care


Joel J Smiler DVM
Hotline Director

Dear FlyersRights:

I think if Congress doesn't act, especially on the seat space requirement, sooner or later we're going to have an emergency where people die or are seriously hurt because they can't get out of the tightly packed rows fast enough.  Kind of like it took the Triangle Shirtwaist fire to establish some minimum standards for workplace safety.

Dear FlyersRights team:

You should know that we made a $500 donation on 10-13-15 in response to your 'Help an Old Friend' keep the lights on campaign and received nothing but this paypal receipt. While I know how things can slip through the cracks and I don't hold it against you, if this happened to others as well, you're not likely to see repeat donations when you need them. Just an FYI. Keep up the good work.

Best Regards,

Dear SH,
My sincere apologies. We very much appreciate every donation. Thank you to all who've contributed to FlyersRights!
Kendall Creighton

Our Acclaim:

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Airline passengers have rights!

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Nontract Of Carriage
Airline Contracts Of Carriage Fail To Protect Passengers

December 16, 2015 
Being an airline means never having to say you're sorry. 

As some of you know, when you buy a ticket on an airline, you're really agreeing to a contract with that airline called the Contract of Carriage. Also known in legal terms as a 'contract invitation', or 'take it or leave it'.

And without some regulation otherwise, the airlines can pretty much say or do whatever they want in these contracts.

They've recently gone beyond the normal things, and now getting into redefining terms like Acts of God. A term which previously meant bad weather, or war or something similar.

Now, some airlines have reclassified their contracts to say Acts of God includes shortages of maintenance equipment or crew, which were considered their responsibility previously. 

The other thing FlyersRights is watching in these contracts is that they don't inform passengers of some very basic rights they have - for instance, compensation for delays.

Most people don't realize that since 2003 you've had the right to get compensation for delays on International flights or International trips as outlined in the Montreal Convention and the EU.

Even if the delay occurs in the US and that amount runs up to $2600. But you will never know that from reading these contracts or even from going on the DOT website. We are asking the FAA to require that some basic consumer information be included in these contracts.

Before 1978, US airlines suffering delays or flight cancellations were obligated to offer transportation on a competitor's next flight if it would get the passenger to their destination quicker. Airlines were even required to put economy-class passengers in first class seats, if those were the only seats available.

This rule, called Rule 240, was ordered by the now-closed 
Civil Aeronautics Board and was incorporated in all airlines' contracts of carriage. The only omision was for the term, 'Act of God', which was given to each airline to define. It was unclear which god an airline would say was at fault for failure to have enough maintenance staff, (Loki or Coyote, both known to be trickster gods.)

Are you traveling overseas this holiday season? Very few people are taking advantage of flight delay compensation as outlined by the Montreal Convention and the EU.

The treaty provides for up to $2,600 for flight delays on international trips.  In fact, FlyersRights calculates that it's well over a billion dollars in lost compensations by people who didn't know their rights.

The treaty also provides that it's on a modified no fault basis. So the burden of proof is on the airlines to prove that they took all reasonable steps to avoid the delay.

Also, there are delay compensation rights if you're flying to or within Europe. Again, the airlines will not tell you about this and neither will the Department of Transportation.

Business travel writer Joe Brancatelli is right when he says that being an airline means never having to give you the seat for which you paid. It means never having to fly on time. It means not having to get you home if it strands you halfway around the world. Being an airline means never even having to fly you to the city that appears on the ticket you purchased. Actually, being an airline means never having to fly aircraft - which pretty much means you're not even an airline.

Welcome to the new Titanic

In previous columns we've called the cheapest seats on the plane 'Last Class' instead of coach because passengers are made to feel like a third or fourth class citizens from the moment they book until they flee the airport. 

However, a better term may be "no class" or "classless" - and also keep a lookout for "pet class", where customers travel in cargo with the animals. Pet food included!

An incident that changed history was back in 2010 when six passengers on a Russian airline Tatarstan Airlines were forced to stand in the aisles for their entire flight after the wrong airplane - one with too few seats- showed up at the airport. The flight was between Antalya, Turkey and Ekaterinburg, Russia. It was meant to be on a 148-seat Boeing 737. Instead a 142-seat 737 showed up at the gate.

Passengers were given a choice: wait seven hours for the next plane or spend the whole flight standing up. It was a five-hour flight, and apparently did not breach any Russian safety regulations. When the plane hit turbulence, the standing passengers sat on the floor. This incident led to Ryanair and China's Spring Airline to consider vertical seating.

Suddenly, bundling yourself into a cardboard box and getting shipped via UPS doesn't look so bad.

Read more about FlyersRights' proposed Passenger Bill of Rights re. contract of carriage.

'Tis Better To Give Than Receive

A BIG THANKS to all of you who generously donated to FlyersRights over the past year.  You aren't merely supporting our mission, you've become a part of FlyersRights.

While Congress is on vacation and the President is in Hawaii, be assured FlyersRights is on duty.

Tired of those warnings that your frequent flyer miles are going to expire?
You can gift them to FlyersRights.

Pledge to donate your miles to our volunteer staffers who need to travel for meetings, etc.

Please contact FlyersRights' president Paul Hudson at Paul@flyersrights.org to donate.

Double Your Tax Benefits By Donating Appreciated Stock

If you traditionally give cash at year end, consider this: higher tax rates and strong stock returns make donating your stock an attractive tax-saving move.

Many stocks in the last year have posted strong returns. And with higher tax rates, you face paying increased capital gains tax on their investments if sold.

As for gifting appreciated stock, the donor just has to transfer it to the
FlyersRights.org account and will receive a tax deduction based on the present market value rather than what they paid for it.

Making a donation of stock can double your tax benefit. If you donate an appreciated security, you will avoid paying capital gains on the sale. In addition, the gifted stock allows you to deduct the value of the donation on your tax return.

FlyersRights.org is equipped and ready to receive your stock donations. Just tell your broker you wish to donate stock to FlyersRights.org.

For account number contact Paul Hudson at (800) 662-1859.

FlyersRights Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

Federal Tax ID 27-4519068

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Put This Number in Your Phone:
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Send your comments to the newsletter editor: kendallc@FlyersRights.org, or @KendallFlyers

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Website    News    Legislation    Help! I'm Stranded    Media    Contact
A Job Well Done, 
But Still Far To Go

December 8, 2015 

Back in December 2006, in what now seems like a simpler but more lawless time, FlyersRights was born.
We’re approaching the ninth anniversary of the organization, which began with the formation of a definitive piece of government regulation. the 3-Hour Tarmac delay Rule. This unglamorous but critical piece of legislation saw millions of passengers clash with Washington insiders and airline executives.
FlyersRights was doing groundbreaking work, focusing squarely on the issue of passenger strandings, which wasn’t being taken seriously and not central to political discourse. In the spring of 2010 the US Department of Transportation began imposing severe penalties against airlines that kept passengers stranded onboard aircraft during lengthy tarmac delays.
So far this winter, as snowstorms have delayed thousands of flights, this rule has helped ease countless of frustrated travelers. Comfort that wasn’t going to be provided voluntarily by the airlines, so the DOT rightfully stepped in
So the airlines have changed, yet customers have never been more unhappy. The Air Travel Consumer Report from the U.S. Department of Transportation finds that in the first six months of this year, complaints from air travelers were up 20 percent  over the same timeframe in 2014. It’s nothing short of amazing that as airline profits and revenues go through the roof, customer service is worse than ever.
The usual scenerio is if you’re unhappy with a business, you can take your money elsewhere, but that’s long gone for passengers. Following several rounds of mergers over the last seven years, 85 percent of the nation’s air traffic is reduced to four airlines – American, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines.
Challenging the Oligarchy
An oligopoly is where there are a few firms and involves substantial market power. Thankfully, this summer, the Department of Justice has launched its own investigation into America’s major airlines, which it suspectsed of collusion in order to fleece passengers out of billions.
Much like the case of broadband Internet. Many of us are at the mercy of our local cable company for Internet service. Resulting in broadband that is both slower and far more expensive in the US than in other countries.
Yet, high airline profits aren’t helping make the average air travelers experience better. Just like the oligopoly dominating your local Internet service – their big profits aren’t an incentive to invest in faster networks – it’s the other way around, they have less incentive to upgrade service than if there was more competition and lower profits
Here are a few ways the oligolipy airlines make your flight an overpriced nightmare. FlyersRights addresses these our proposed Passenger Bill of Rights 2.0:
Charging unreasonable fees for checked baggage.
American commercial airlines are expected to record a combined net profit of $13.2 billion in 2015 according to IATA off of fees on checked luggage. Which is a huge haul by any measure, but particularly noteworthy considering bags used to be free.
Most airlines now require $25 for one piece of checked luggage, with costs increasing for each additional bag, and reaching as high as $200. JetBlue, which for years separated itself from the bunch with free baggage check, u-turned and began charging for checked bags this past summer. That leaves Southwest as the lone airline that doesn’t charge for checked bags.
Charging unreasonable fees for ticket changes.
The industry standard for ticket change fees for American commercial flights is now averaging $200. (For some international flights, that figure can rise to $300 and more.) This has earned the airlines a collective $3 billion in flight change fees between June of 2014 and 2015.
Being late. 
Yes, it’s true that poor weather and aircraft maintenance can throw off flight times, it’s also true that some delays are completely unnecessary.
The Air Quality Rating report, released in April of this year, found that industry on-time arrival percentages worsened between 2013 and 2014, dropping from 78.4 percent to 76.2 percent.
Some offenders were far worse than others. Spirit continued its streak of worst at everything; its flights have only a 50-50 chance of arriving within 15 minutes of schedule.
United was a distant second, with 33.7 percent of its flights arriving late to their destination.
Booking (and overbooked) flights.
Sardined flights have a many obvious downsides, among them “boarding headaches, overhead bin shortages and increases in involuntary bumping.” When airlines overbook flights, customers usually lose. Between 2013 and 2014, there was an increase of 3 percent in customers that were bumped from flights
Expensive ticket prices.
Remember a few years ago when airfare prices shot up, and everyone grudgingly went along with it because fuel costs were so high and it all seemed legitimate? Well, gas prices have nose-dived since then, yet ticket prices haven’t budged. In fact, domestic fares actually crept up by about 3 percent last year.
Unbundling services and upselling everything.   
What is the definition of ‘airfare’? The airlines have reduced the term to an increasingly meaningless base price with dozens of gotcha fees, which leads to deceptive advertising.
Small seats getting smaller.

Airlines are now aggressively reducing seat and passenger space on both new and existing airliners to squeeze out more revenue, and charging extra for what had previously been standard seat space, to the point that health and safety is threatened.
According to USA Today, “[f]light attendants say it’s harder to provide passengers with medical care in tightly packed seat rows, and doctors warn of ‘economy class syndrome,’ or deep vein thrombosis, which can afflict passengers who can’t move their legs on longer flights.”
Flyersrights is requesting that Congress establish a minimum standard for seat pitch. Our petition has been signed by nearly 34,000 people and can be found here .
Air travelers need an advocate now more than ever. Are we up to the challenge?
FlyersRights has never shied away from big ambitions.

Your Letters:

Dear FlyersRights:

Subject: typical airline torture

I'm a longtime supporter.  Just a quick note - if you keep track of experiences like this - to say that my husband has just gotten off a nearly-2-hour phone holding session because his Delta tickets for flights to Canada TOMORROW "changed flight #s" and he was unable to check in. Had to call Delta's 888#, and was put on hold over and over and over again as the customer service rep (who sounded absolutely clueless) fixed the problem.

He was never notified about this problem via cell phone though his phone is indicated for message alerts.

This has been an incredibly frustrating incident as he's been trying to handle business before leaving on a long trip very early tomorrow. It seems so typical of the abysmal service we're all encountering now in this new world of cattle-car airline operations. It's such a shame, and very discouraging. We used to look forward to travel; now it's nothing but torture.

In closing, I have to say that Southwest is still the holdout on this for us; we continue to have good experiences, free bags, and smooth checkins w/ Southwest. We try to fly SW whenever we can, sometimes even when it means renting a car and driving a distance if the only alternative is multiple flights on code shares and/or regionals (I don't fly regionals at all anymore).

Thanks for your great work.


Thanks for your letter. 

If you think passengers need FlyersRights, then we need people to act now. Our goal is to raise at least $40,000 by year end. 

If all members pledged 1% of their travel budget for 2016, or $5 per month, we can get there. Your charity funds a weekly newsletter, a toll free passenger hotline and full-time staffed watchdog advocacy office in DC for passengers.

For those interested in tax deductions and year-end gifting we can offer a direct line access and personal concierge advocacy and air travel assistance well as advice with contributions over $500 .

For contributions of $5,000 or more you can enjoy use a resort condominium at for up to a week in Las Vegas, Sarasota Florida and a host of other locations.

We would like to improve and grow FlyersRights, but that will depend on public support.

You already fund IATA and A4A with your ticket revenue - organizations that oppose nearly all service improvements.

Congress is hopeless cause, with not one out of 535 Members willing to introduce any of our 30 airline passenger improvements, and only interested in measures to further fatten profits and flatten remaining competition. Under the present climate though it could improve next year if FlyersRights gets stronger, and in 2017 when a new President and Congress take office.

Paul Hudson
President, FlyersRights

Video of the Week:

Paul Hudson of FlyersRights on Lost Baggage.
FlyersRights' Paul Hudson talks to NBC about lost baggage.

Our Acclaim:

Getting on a Plane? 
Put This Number in Your Phone:
1 (877) Flyers6
  1 (877) 359-3776
The FlyersRights HOTLINE!

We publish weekly newsletters. There's no charge to receive any of them. 
Send your comments to the newsletter editor:  kendallc@FlyersRights.org, or @KendallFlyers