Tag: Clear Airfares Act

passenger rights 2

Have you ever booked an airline ticket and been hit with a surprise fee at the tail end of the purchase process?  It’s an experience that’s something north of  frustrating.  Well, there’s a Senate bill, The Clear Airfares Act, that calls for fees, charges or surcharges to be disclosed in a straightforward manner before customers input their name and credit card information.

The problem is, the bill doesn’t seem to be gaining any momentum.  Last December, New Jersey Senator, Robert Menendez (D) stood in Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport to announce (with fanfare) that he would be re-introducing the legislation – but to date, nothing has been achieved.  Why so silent now Bob?  (More on “Silent Bob” further down in this post.)

So what can you, Joe Traveler, do when you’re faced with an added fee on your airline ticket?  Apart from writing to your elected representatives, not much.  But keep the faith.  Nobody thought that the “Air Passenger Bill of Rights” would get passed – but it did.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Kevin Smith, the Director of the film “Clerks” (a.k.a. “Silent Bob“) is giving Southwest Airlines a public ass-kicking after they kicked his ass off a flight for being “too fat to fly“.  The incident has generated a number of headlines and massive Twitter traffic since it went down over the past weekend.  While SWA has issued him an apology and a $100 voucher, Smith doesn’t seem to be willing to let the issue rest.  He has recently  issued a challenge to SWA to prove that he is indeed too fat to fly, inviting them to do so before a national TV audience on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”.  He posted to Twitter (where he has 1.6 million followers): “you bring that same row of seats to the Daily Show and I’ll sit in ‘em for all to see on TV.” He wrote that if he couldn’t fit in them, he would donate $10,000 to charity.
  • The next time you think about flying standby on American Airlines, Delta Air Lines or Continental Airlines, be prepared to give the gate agent $50.  American Airlines recently changed it’s policy for flying standby to align with the policies from Delta and Continental.  American, like Delta, now gives special stand-by privileges to elite frequent fliers and charges customers with non-refundable fares $50 to change their departure on the day of travel.  Continental lets some customers change flights for $25 or $50 – but it’s free for elite fliers.  United Airlines still allows regular coach customers fly standby for free.

New Jersey Senator, Robert Menendez (D) stood in Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport yesterday to announce that he would be re-introducing legislation that would ensure travelers get a clear breakdown of holiday surcharges and all add-on fees, including baggage, meals and pets.

The legislation, which Menendez termed “The Clear Airfares Act”, calls for fees, charges or surcharges to be disclosed in a straightforward transaction before customers have to input their name and credit card information.  Menendez said travelers have to click through peripheral web pages and wade through often confusing text to understand whether or not their airfare includes surcharges or added fees.Menendez

“Trying to navigate through the different components in your airfare is like an airline pilot trying to land a plane in a thunderstorm without electronic instruments or a map,” he said. “It’s technically possible, but it sure isn’t easy.”

Menendez’s bill — which he will introduce this week and hopes to pass next year — would require the transaction to be “straightforward, simple and transparent.”  Under Menendez’s bill, as each passenger selects from a list of options while booking online, a cost will appear for each item — the basic airfare, security tax, a holiday surcharge (if applicable), baggage, meals, pets and so on.

The principle is simple: Passengers should know what they’re paying for when they buy a ticket.  It’s basic consumer protection.  And, like many arriving flights at Newark Airport, it’s long overdue.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Allegiant Air announced today it will move its low-cost service to Orlando International Airport beginning February 8, 2010.  Allegiant Air had provided service from GSP to Orlando via the Orlando-Sanford International Airport.  The low-fare carrier says it will offer the new service with introductory fares at $59.99 each way.
  • British Airways has agreed to pay cancellation penalties and other expenses for about 2,200 consumers who responded to an erroneous offer of $40 fares between the U.S. and India.  The fare, which didn’t include taxes and fees, was posted on British Airways’ Web site at about 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 2 and was removed within minutes.  However, the ad remained on other online travel sites for about two hours.
  • Planes belonging to Southwest Airlines and FedEx  suffered minor damage when they bumped wings while on the ground in Salt Lake City.  A Southwest spokesman said the airline’s jet was beginning to pull back from the gate when it was clipped by a FedEx cargo plane Sunday morning.  No passengers were hurt, and they were put on another plane for the trip to Albuquerque.  The plane was fixed and put back in duty.