The Obama administration’s recent proposal to significantly increase compensation for airline passengers bumped from a flight means that airlines will have a lot more incentive to persuade passengers to give up their seats willingly.
Currently, passengers who are forced to give up their seat and don’t arrive at their destination within two hours (four hours for international flights) of their original scheduled time receive a $400 check. They receive $800 if they land later than that.
Under the new proposal, which would go into effect later this year, passengers denied boarding would receive between $650 and $1,300. A $1,300 check suddenly makes getting involuntarily bumped seem a lot more palatable. And a lot less likely to happen.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- Spirit Airlines has canceled all flights through June 15 after pilots went on strike over the weekend. According to the airline’s website, passengers scheduled to fly through June 15 would be credited the full amount of their purchased tickets, plus $100 for future flights. Pilots said they are seeking pay on par with low- fare competitors Jet Blue, AirTran, and Southwest Airlines.
- Continental Airlines introduced the benefit last fall on its Chase credit card, followed by Delta with its premium Skymiles American Express card. Both cards waive the fee for a flier’s first checked bag – a $50 charge on a round trip — for up to nine people traveling together on the cardmember’s reservation. It sounds like a good deal, but there’s a catch: another fee. In the case of Continental, it’s the $85 annual fee for the OnePass Plus card, and for Delta it’s $95 for the Gold Skymiles card.
- Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Air France-KLM Group have begun introducing seatbelt-mounted airbags in their economy-class cabins as authorities tighten regulations aimed at reducing the risk of fatalities in plane crashes.
If you’re traveling for Christmas or New Year’s, there’s good news and bad news.
First the good news: According to the Air Transport Association, there will be about 1 million fewer fliers expected to travel between Dec. 17th and Jan. 6th. This will be the fewest since the 2005-06 holiday travel period. With fewer travelers, the crush at the airport may be less palpable. The busiest travel days are expected to be the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday after Christmas — Dec. 26 – 28.
Now for the bad news: Unfortunately for the roughly 41 million people who will be on planes, fewer fliers won’t translate into more space for carrying presents in overhead bins, nor will it improve the chance of finding an empty middle seat. The amount of seats available will be down 3% from last year’s holiday season, versus the 2.4% drop in expected passenger traffic. Seats are down about 13% from two years ago.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- Earlier this week, Cathay Pacific, the Hong Kong-based airline, raised its fee to fly with a child under the age of 2 on the parents lap. The airline now charges 25% of a full-priced ticket – where most other airlines charge approximately 10% on international flights. (Babies generally fly free on domestic flights.) Will other airlines follow? We’ll see.
- JetBlue is looking to better leverage the world’s largest social network (yep, Facebook) by launching a carefully crafted campaign to generate Facebook fan inflation. As if 60,000 fans weren’t enough (Yapta has a mere 992), the airline has kicked-off the “All-You-Can-Jet Fan Sweepstakes” where being a JetBlue fan could net you either (1) free round-trip tickets, (2) comped airfare and a vacation for you and three friends for 5 days for 4 nights, or even (3) unlimited free travel on JetBlue for a year. To become eligible, simply become a fan of JetBlue and submit a ballot via their JetBlue Sweeps Page tab. Fans can also enter daily for extra chances to win these prizes.
- Choice Hotels has announced a new bonus offer for stays during the next two months. Through February 18, 2010, members of the Choice Privileges program will earn triple airline miles or hotel points for the second and subsequent stays at Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, Ascend, MainStay Suites, Suburban, EconoLodge, and Rodeway Inn hotels. To earn the bonus, stays must be booked at choicehotels.com or by calling 1-800-4CHOICE. Advance registration is required. (Registering for the promotion automatically enters you into a sweepstakes for a chance to win a six-night Hawaiian vacation. No stay required.)