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International Travelers Say Goodbye to Leg Room and Other Amenities

August 3, 2007 | Posted in: Airline News,Ask Rick,Destinations | 1 comment

Those of us who fly coach on domestic flights have grown accustomed to uncomfortable seats, elbows in our sides, tray tables in our laps, bent knees, and an overall lack of comfort.

However, those of us who fly internationally had come to expect something a little different. While sitting in the economy section was not the same as sitting in Business or First Class, you could still anticipate a bit of leg and elbow room, and even some form of entertainment. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case anymore.

The New York Times (also available on turizmus) highlighted the fact that a number of carriers are now using the old Boeing 757 on international flights. This is a plane with narrow seats, three seats to a row, and only one aisle, so on those long haul trips you can expect to feel cramped while you wait for the beverage cart to pass so you can finally get up to go to the lavatory.

Along with personal space, international travelers can also lose amenities when on a Boeing 757. While many international flights offer movies and music at your seat and easy charging for your laptop, 757s are often devoid of such perks for economy passengers.

Some airlines are removing and rearranging seats to make things a little more tolerable for those long sojourns across the sea, but most people can expect an added bit of discomfort if they find themselves aboard a 757 with nothing but 8 hours in a middle seat to look forward to.

Pack For A Few Days Extra on International Flights

August 2, 2007 | Posted in: Airline News,Ask Rick | 5 comments

Aren’t airlines multi-billion dollar corporations? Is there some sort of “Can’t hire anyone with common sense” clause in their corporate charter?

Ok! I admit I am on tilt as my poker buddies might say or “mad as hell” as Howard might say, and for me that takes quite a bit (as a passenger I have been through more than my fair share of Air France strikes).

I am now on day 2 (heading into day 3) of a saga with my 24 year old (first time over the ocean solo) Austrian cousin whom I purchased a ticket departing on US Airways flight 707 at noon on Wednesday from Munich to Dallas (via Philadelphia).

After 5 hours of diddling around on the tarmac on Wednesday they decided to “reschedule” the flight and put everyone up at a hotel and said the flight would “try” to take off Thursday at 5pm.

She is from Salzburg and took the train at 6am on Wednesday to get to Munich in time for her flight (or rather her tarmac taxi as it were), so it certainly isn’t convenient for her, let alone the people on their return trip to make other arrangements…

Pack For A Few Days Extra on International Flights

Best Flight All Year!

July 24, 2007 | Posted in: Airline News,Ask Rick | 2 comments

With all the talk of delays, cancellations, poor customer service, and broken toilets on flights, it’s easy to forget just how great flying can be some times. Well, today I was reminded of why I love to take to the sky. On my American flight from Dallas to Seattle, we had a great crew who went out of their way to help all of the young passengers, all of the elderly passengers, and everyone in between. I was proud of them, and I was glad I got to see it up close. It was the best flight I’ve been on in a year!

Airlines Make the Funny Papers

July 20, 2007 | Posted in: Airline News,Ask Rick,Security | 0 comments

This cartoon caught my eye today in the Los Angeles Times, take a look and tell me what you think.

You know it’s bad when the nations political cartoonist’s start jumping in on Air Travel System Woes.

Want to Get More $$$ for being Bumped from your Flight?

July 16, 2007 | Posted in: Ask Rick | 2 comments

bumping.jpg

Of course you do!

Sometimes it’s called “Denied Boarding” or its popular translation “We sold 10 more seats than were on the plane just to make sure it was really full!”.

If you’ve ever been “bumped” you know it’s a real pain.

And you don’t get much: up to $200 bucks if they can put you on a flight that gets you to your destination within an hour of when you were supposed to arrive, or, $400 maximum if it’s any later. 400-bucks–hey, don’t spend it all in one place!

But now, the Dept. of Transportation is accepting public comment on whether they should raise this compensation (duh).

Want to make YOUR voice heard? It may be one of your last chances … they just now are opening comments from this original request by the Air Transport Association in April of 2001 (it always takes me 6 years to sign-off to get anything done at my office).

Go to http://dms.dot.gov/ and hit the Comment/Submissions button; Press “Continue”; then fill in the Docket ID as OST-01-9325, also set Operating Administrator to OST and you’re good to go … It’s pretty easy…I know, I tried it.

Don’t miss this chance, because the last time they asked for comment on this issue was all the way back in 1968!

Update:

Ioannis Georgiou posted a comomment with a link to the current EU bumping rights (PDF document) which I think is quite useful, Thanks Ioannis

Trains not Planes! for Southwest Airlines Executives

July 12, 2007 | Posted in: Airline News,Ask Rick | 2 comments

I heard from a very credible source a couple of weeks ago that the entire management team at Southwest Airlines including the CEO flew to New York for a securities analyst meeting on a competing airline — hmm let’s see Southwest is based in Dallas — Dallas is a hub for Southwest and American (you do the math).

Seems that after the meeting like thousands of other airline passengers the management team got stuck at the airport (flying back on this competing airline, non-stop no doubt) due to a variety of delays and had that oh so exciting option of spending the night (on their own dime if it was mother nature or at the overly comfortable hotel selection of the “competing airline” with a generous $5 meal coupon).

Evidently an executive decision was made and the management team took the train from New York to Baltimore so they could hop a ride from Baltimore to Dallas (connecting) on their own airline.

I figured someone would report on this story in the major media, but I never saw it show up, so here it tis.

I hope those of you who have sent in hundreds of notes about the painful travel experiences in the past few months gets a wry smile from this tidbit like I did when i first heard it.

Text Message Your Flight Complaints to American Airlines Secret Hotline

July 11, 2007 | Posted in: Airline News,Ask Rick | 5 comments

How would you like to send a text message to your airline about the less than stellar conditions or service on your flight before it even gets to the gate … to someone that is actually listening??

Well, I can hook you up.

Seems only the most elite of frequent fliers — American Airlines Executive Platinum — are being given two secret phone numbers to text their complaints in real time. And not only that, they have said these privileged few are guaranteed that these messages will receive priority attention.

Want to take advantage of the super secret numbers? Well a little birdie told me this is what you do:

  • In your text message include flight #, date, city pair, and the issue
  • For complaints about the cabin text 877-334-4912 or email aircraft@aa.com
  • Or if you want to complain about food & drinks text 877-334-5222 or email food@aa.com

Evidently you can also tell them … how excellent your flight was … if it was.

Please let me know if you had problems and if you got a timely response.

Update: I have gotten back reports that the email address did get a response if it includes flight#, date and city pair along with the issue.

Airline Customer Service, Are We Doomed?

July 7, 2007 | Posted in: Ask Rick | 12 comments

The past few months the number of e-mails that we have gotten with people wanting to vent their frustrations about air travel has increased by five-fold and the number of press articles has skyrocketed on this topic.This got my antennae up and I started adding this topic to my conversations with reporters and airline analysts and I found it absolutely fascinating what Wall Street thinks vs. Airlines vs. U.S. Government vs. Air Travelers.The question I had in my mind was Will people travel less because of the hassles of air travel or are they resigned to poor service and its just part of the gig from now on?

When it came out in the most recent Consumer Satisfaction Index that all but one airline is rated lower than the IRS, I new it was time to start jotting down bits of information related to customer service that I thought might shed some light on the issue. After chatting with our new editor we came up with an article on the subject, Death of Airline Customer Service, which I think captures where things are today…

Airline Customer Service, Are We Doomed?

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