Scout’s Tips~ Passenger’s Bill of Rights

Scout

With all of the things that have been going on in Dusty’s life from sick cats to photo contests and overtime at her work on top of that, Scout thought it would be a good time for one of his columns to give Dusty a tiny break.

The nice thing is that travel has been in the news lately. I don’t mean the travel alert to watch out for terrorists or the Aruba murders. I’m referring to the Airline traveler’s Bill of Rights.

This little bit of regulation came to be because of the severe abuses that airlines have reaped on their customers over the past 10 plus years or so. It all seemed to start back in 1999 when Northwest Airlines stranded a plane full of passengers on the tarmac for 8 horrible hours without food , water or working toilets.  It’s like being trapped in a cramped tin can. If we treated animals that way the ASPCA or maybe even PETA would be knocking down doors to bring charges of animal cruelty.

The worst part was that this wasn’t an isolated incident. It happened again in December 2006 but it was American Airlines this time.  Not to be out done Jet Blue held up 10 flights in February of 2007.

Still the worst situation involved a diabetic passenger who ran into significant blood sugar issues while trapped on a stranded plane with no food. When the flight attendants finally realized that the passenger was in extreme danger they relented and supplied a “snack” tray but charged the passenger $4.00.

At some point a group of passengers sued the airlines for false imprisonment and a media storm ensued. The Airlines set up their own “voluntary  bill of rights” but with no enforcement teeth, things soon returned to business as usual for the airlines. Escalating fees and ticket prices added to the general arrogance of the airline industry pushed the traveling public to revolt. Finally the government stepped in.

The result: A series of pro-passenger Department of Transportation airline regulations with real enforcement tools. The goal is to decrease the number and length of tarmac delays, clearly explain/define tickets costs and extra fees and decrease the number of fliers being bumped for overbooked flights.

Under these new regulations if a boarded commercial plane sits on the tarmac for more than 4 hours, the airline will be charged up to $27,500 per passenger. ( Currently this only applies to international flights.)

Airlines will now have to display or post in a prominent position all bag, meal, cancellation and any other formerly hidden fees on their websites. They will have to compensate bumped passengers at least double the price of their ticket (provided the ticket is less than $650.00)

In January passengers will be allowed to change their reservations within 24 hours  of booking without having to pay a penalty fee.

And of course, baggage fees. With the new rules airlines will have to refund the baggage fees if they lose your luggage. Duh! Isn’t that just common sense? One caveat… if the luggage is only delayed this does not apply but if truly lost  at least you will not have paid the airlines  for the privilege of having them lose your luggage.

These rights are not due to law but are Department of Transportation regulations. Still for an industry that is notorious for poor customer service it is a step in the right direction. . It’s too bad doing the right thing doesn’t come naturally when it come to flying the not so friendly skys.

Don’t forget to Vote.This is your last chance to help out with the NH dream vacation!

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0 Responses to Scout’s Tips~ Passenger’s Bill of Rights

  1. Scout, I really appreciate your tips! We’ve just experienced the “overbooking” situation and now I’m on a quest to see what I can do to prevent it in the future. We don’t fly much and had little experience, so it was quite a shock to learn we “may” get bumpted off our flight, even though it was paid for 8 months ago. The next flight out wasn’t for another 2 days!! Oh, my husband was livid. Even when using Expedia, (which I think helped a little because phone calls were made) I have learned there is no guarentee. Fortunately we made the flight, but one of us had steam coming out his ears for a long time after. There is much I need to learn in this area. One thing I know, I’ll not be using that airline again!! Do you have any other tips for newbies like us??

    • Dusty Roads says:

      Wow! We were sorry to hear about the close call but we’re glad that it worked out in the end. Scout is working on another post about car rentals as a result of a bad situation. He’s trying to get some answers on that. He did have a contact at one of the airlines that he hasn’t talked to in awhile. He’s going to see if he can get some insights on how they pick the people they bump. Dusty has never been bumped without her permission. When a flight she is on is over booked they usually ask for volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for some other perk. Dusty usually volunteers to do that. She considers traveling an adventure so that she won’t stress out when something goes wrong..and it has…But we’ll go into that more when we post our “investigative” results. I hope the rest of your trip goes smoothly and you can relax and enjoy your trip of a lifetime.