Travelers who paid all federal airline taxes when they bought tickets on or before July 22, 2011, for travel beginning on or after July 23, 2011, now might get a refund since the taxes have expired. The refunds are due after Congress failed to pass legislation funding the Federal Aviation Administration and stopped collecting taxes that expired at midnight Friday. Until things are resolved, airlines can’t collect the taxes on tickets sold after July 23, and the government isn’t authorized to collect the taxes on tickets sold before that time if people who bought those tickets travel during the shutdown period.
The IRS is asking airlines to handle the refund process, but they aren’t required to, and most are directing customers directly to the IRS, which says it is still working on a procedure for handling refunds. Jetblue is the only major airline accepting requests for ticket tax refunds.
In the meantime, CBS News reported that instead of passing the tax savings (on new ticket purchases) onto the consumer in the form of lower ticket prices, most airlines have raised their fees to make up the difference. Only Alaska, Hawaiian, and Spirit Airlines seem to be sticking to their normal pricing.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- JetBlue is selling a three-month pass for unlimited flights to help win business passengers after the peak season ends for U.S. vacation travel. The so-called BluePass covers trips from Boston or Long Beach, CA to certain markets from Aug. 22 through Nov. 22 with no blackout dates. Prices range from $1,299 to $1,999 for three service options based on origination and destination airports.
- If you’ve ever been interested in traveling to destinations outside of the U.S., now may be your opportunity to do it without breaking the bank. Air New Zealand is currently offering incredible rates on round-trip flights originating from Los Angeles and San Francisco. There’s also stellar deals on round-trip flights to destinations across Europe that will be expiring very soon. Or if you’re interested in Hong Kong or Beijing, there’s discounts available if you book by August 1st.
The USA Today reports that airport parking rates are rising across the US:
“Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports and San Diego’s Lindbergh Field announced parking price increases earlier this month, following other large airports that raised rates in the past year.
They include: Minneapolis-St. Paul; Los Angeles; Honolulu; Little Rock National; St. Louis; Dallas/Fort Worth; Detroit; Boston; Pittsburgh; Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers; Indianapolis; and Portland, Ore.
At O’Hare, rates for most long-term parking (5 hours or more) will rise by $1, and the 24-hour maximum will increase by $1, to $31, at the daily lot.
At Midway, a $1 increase will apply for long-term parking (7 hours or more) at the hourly and daily garages, and the 24-hour maximum will increase by $1, to $29. Rates for short-term parking will remain the same at both airports.
Starting July 1, San Diego airport will change its rate structure, which will result in higher prices. Parking for an hour will rise by $1, to $4. The daily maximum for the first day will remain at $21, but each additional 24 hours will cost $26.”
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- The New York Times reports that “nearly 100 hotels are scheduled to open in major American cities this year” – despite the fact that many hotels are having trouble filling rooms. New York will have the most new hotels, 46, followed by Houston, with 30. New hotels are opening as well in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, and Washington. I feel a buyers market coming on.
- American Airlines will expand its “cashless cabin” to all flights effective Feb. 1. The carrier previously required passengers to use only credit or debit cards for on-board purchases in the continental U.S. and on flights to and from Hawaii, Alaska and Canada. American Eagle and AmericanConnection flights will continue to accept only cash for on-board purchases. The list of airlines accepting only plastic in the air are: Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, United and Continental Airlines.
- Air New Zealand – which was recently named “Airline of the Year” by Air Transport World magazine – is taking some heat for degrading women in an advertisement which portrays middle-aged women as “cougars” on the hunt for young men. Women’s right’s groups and rape prevention organizations have branded the onine promotion appalling, disgusting and degrading to women.
- The Department of Transportation recently unveiled a website (airconsumer.dot.gov) that makes it easier for passengers to file complaints about airline service and keep track of the rates for on-time arrivals and lost baggage.
The Wall Street Journal reports that many airlines may be in violation of federal rules by “limiting reimbursement” when a traveler’s baggage is lost, delayed or damaged on domestic flights, and the federal government is finally cracking down to help consumers.
According to the article, a number of airlines will pay for expenses only after the first 24 hours from a flight’s arrival. Additionally, many airlines also put a limit on what they’ll offer to pay passengers per day for expenses related to the lost luggage – which the DOT says is a violation of its domestic baggage-liability rule. The only limit allowed, the agency says, is that total liability for lost domestic baggage is $3,300 per passenger, including replacement costs and incidental expenses.
‘”Travelers should not have to pay for toiletries or other necessities while they wait for baggage misplaced by airlines,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “We expect airlines to comply with all of our regulations and will take enforcement action if they do not.”‘
The DOT has given airlines 90 days to modify their rules and practices before the agency launches any enforcement actions.
Here’s more travel news you can use:
- Air New Zealand is conducting a “Matchmaking Flight” in which single passengers participate in speed dating and matchmaking games. Many of these traveling singles have already gotten a sneak peek at some of the folks they’ll be meeting along the way via online profiles posted on the airline’s social media website (check them out at thematchmakingflight.com).
- Air Canada now offers both free BlackBerry and iPhone applications for travellers. Travellers with BlackBerry smartphones will be able to get real-time flight information from Air Canada, which claims to be the first North American carrier to offer such a service. The BlackBerry app will also provide information for Jazz flights, the Halifax-based regional carrier. Travellers will be able get electronic boarding passes and other flight details such as delays and itinerary changes. The airline also is planning to offer WiFi services on some flights to the U.S west coast.
- Manchester UK Airport has admitted it might be illegal for children to use its new “nude” security scanner when it comes into operation at the end of the month. ( The full body scanner reveals everything under clothing… in detail.) The airport has now said that no one under 18 will be subject to scanning until it can clarify the law on indecent images of children.