Attention would-be vacationers: go ahead, find that cheap airfare and get on a plane.
There are good reasons to do so.
I found six, and you may know more; mine include better passenger protections, lower airline fees and occasionally free pizza.
And that reminds me – I’ll save a slice for that alert TSA screener at the Indianapolis airport security line, too.
The Dept. of Transportation wants to hear from YOU. And I have no doubt, they’ll also be hearing from the airlines (that’ll be the screaming you hear – okay, just kidding – kind of).
Anyway, the DOT has a whole host of newly proposed regulations to “enhance” the airline passenger experience, and they’d like to know how you feel about it. So do I for that matter.
You can see all the details on these proposed airline rules on Dept. of Transportation site, but here are a few of the highlights (I think you’ll like these):
- BUMPING COMPENSATION: It could be raised to between $650 and $1,300; or the DOT might just toss out those limits and reimburse fliers between 100% and 200% the cost of their tickets – and bumping compensation could also be provided to frequent fliers using “free” tickets
- BAG FEES: Passengers might be compensated for bag fees if they get bumped or flights are canceled
- LOST BAGS: If bags aren’t delivered to passengers in a timely manner, there could be an additional payout
- NO PENALTY TICKET CANCELATIONBS: Make and cancel reservations within 24 hours and maybe get a total refund (some airlines already do this, including Alaska, American, Continental, Delta, United, US Airways, and Virgin America)
- TRANSPARENCY: The DOT wants the government to show the true price of airline ticket, meaning the base plus those taxes and fees (FareCompare always shows the full price of an airline ticket)
- PEANUTS: They might, once and for all, ban peanuts on planes
Want to comment on these proposed airline rules? You have 60 days to do so. You’ll need this docket number – DOT-OST-2010-0140 – then head the this site at http://www.regulations.gov and they’ll tell you what you need to do.
See my longer piece on the proposed airline rules, which includes my take on what is prompting all this.
Tomorrow – Thursday, April 29 – a new Dept. of Transportation rule called, “Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections” goes into effect.
You know it better as the “3-hour rule” – and it means no more passengers getting trapped-on-the-tarmac in planes going nowhere, after a wait of three hours.
It also means, while you are on that plane, waiting for those three hours, medical attention will be available to anyone who needs it, and after two hours, food and water will be available as well.
Plus, the lavatories will have to be in working order (don’t think this hasn’t happened before).
The airlines don’t like this rule – and some passengers say, three hours is too long. I take a look at this angry debate (and more) in my latest column for ABCNews.com.
Here’s an irony: the new three hour rule could wind up delaying your plane a lot longer than three hours – or at least, that’s what some experts are saying. Is that argument valid? I’d love to hear what you think.
U.S., Israel Reach “Open Skies” Pact for Air Travel
Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today that the United States and Israel have reached agreement on “Open Skies” which will liberalize airline travel between the two nations.
LaHood said both countries will enjoy “the benefits of competitive pricing and more convenient service.”
Here’s what else it means, per the DOT press release:
“Under the new agreement, airlines from both countries will be allowed to select routes and destinations based on consumer demand for both passenger and cargo services, without limitations on the number of U.S. or Israeli carriers that can fly between the two countries or the number of flights they can operate. It will also provide unlimited opportunities for U.S. and Israeli carriers to serve the market through cooperative marketing arrangements, including code-sharing.” – DOT, 4-23-10
In just one week (April 29), a new Dept. of Transportation (DOT) rule takes effect, that limits the time people have to sit on a plane – on the tarmac – to just 3-hours.
As soon as word of the rule was first made public, there was an immediate crush of carriers requesting that the rule be waived in some of their cases. Well, now we know the answer to those requests:
As activist Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood put it, “Passengers on flights delayed on the tarmac have a right to know they will not be held aboard a plane indefinitely. This is an important consumer protection, and we believe it should take effect as planned.”
As noted, earlier this year, JetBlue, Delta, American and other sought waivers and/or exemptions to the rule because of various situations at airports they fly to - especially at JFK because its main runway is under construction. The carriers said, without those exemptions, they’d have to cancel flights to avoid breaking the rule (and frankly, to avoid the hefty fines – $27,500 per passenger).
But the DOT says, airlines can minimize delays by rerouting and/or rescheduling flights.
Ball’s in your court, airlines.
The latest figures are out on airline performance from the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), and it wasn’t such a good month, but weather played a part.
Here’s the scoop:
On-Time Performance: Airlines reported an overall on-time arrival rate of slightly more than 74% – worse than January, and substantially worse than February 2009 (blame it on some pretty major snowstorms) – not great
Baggage: There were 4.01 reports of “mishandled” bags per 1,000 passengers in February, an improvement over January – not bad
Pets: There were 3 pet deaths in February – not good.
Keep reading to see the Best and Worst airports for on-time performances…
Airline On-Time Performance Feb. Report Card: “C-”
Did you know something like 15 million Americans suffer from depression? And naturally, that would include some of the men and women in the cockpits of the planes you fly. Except of course, they’ve had to keep that a secret.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is changing its rather anachronistic policy that banned pilots from taking depression medication. Which meant, in the past, pilots who wanted to fly either had to quit taking their medication – or hide it – or not take any at all.
Kind of scary, huh?
By the way, depression is considered a very treatable condition – although a substantial number of people don’t bother with treatment, presumably, in part, because of the stigma. Which is a shame.
Keep reading for the “rationale” behind the FAA’s change of heart: it’s all about – safety…
FAA Changes Policy, OK’s Depression Medication for Pilots
No surprise here: Last year, the number of airline passengers dropped. The decline from 2008 to 2009 has been pegged at 5.3% – and that includes passengers on domestic flights, and international routes to and from the U.S.
All told, there were just a hair under 770 million passengers last year, according to the Dept. of Transportations statistics.
So which airlines carried the most passengers in 2009? No real surprise here either: for the third consecutive year in a row, Southwest carried more passengers than any other U.S. airline. The airline with the most international passengers (again, to and from the U.S.) was American Airlines – for the 20th year in a row.