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.
“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.
Earlier today the FAA proposed levying multimillion-dollar fines against United Airlines and US Airways for safety violations, including flying a plane after mechanics stuffed shop towels into an engine.
The agency is proposing to slap US Airways with a $5.4 million fine for operating 8 planes that conducted 1,647 flights from October 2008 to January 2009 that were in violation of safety or maintenance rules. United may get hit with a $3.8 million fine for operating a Boeing 737 on more than 200 flights with shop towels covering openings near where oil collects in the bottom of the engine instead of using protective caps required by the carrier’s maintenance procedures.
According to FAA rules, the airlines have 30 days to plead their case before the agency can impose the fines. Perhaps United should it explain that it wasn’t actually a towel, but a Sham-wow. I think they’ll see the genius in that.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- Reuters is reporting that there’s been an industry-wide increase of domestic air fares. The fare increase, initiated on Tuesday by American Airlines, represents a boost in round-trip ticket prices by as much as $16 for a large number of U.S. city pairs. The increase saw matches from Continental Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways.
- The L.A. Times’ Daily Travel & Deal Blog notes that Southwest Airlines, Virgin America and JetBlue are all offering $44 fares on flights within California and to Las Vegas (from California). Check out their blog for details on each of these sales.
- The New York Times blog In Transit notes that, “When shopping for airfare, it’s easy to overlook smaller, unfamiliar carriers. But those so-called B airlines may offer the best deal.” One such “B airline” is a new one from Richard Branson’s Virgin Blue Group called, V Australia. They’re now competing with United and Qantas by offering non-stop flights to destinations down under.
- Nashville International Airport Police had to shackle an unruly passenger by the wrists and ankles to get him off a Delta airliner after it made an unscheduled landing there on Tuesday. According to witnesses, the man would not allow the person sitting next to him to leave her seat to use the restroom. So, the next time you’re torn between choosing a window seat and an isle seat, think of this dude’s mug-shot and choose the isle. I’d gladly take the beverage cart in the elbow a 1000 times before asking this guy for permission to go to the john.