DOT Proposes More Protection for Air Travelers
The Department of Transportation has proposed more rules designed to protect air travelers, which it says builds on its consumer protection strategy that started with a three-hour cap on tarmac delays.
The new rules would increase compensation for any travelers bumped from flights, increasing compensation from $400 to $650 if you’re bumped and then rebooked on an alternative flight that gets you to your destination one to two hours late and from $800 to $1,300 if you’re more than two hours late on domestic flights and more than four hours late on international flights.
The new rules also would allow air travelers to make and cancel reservations within 24 hours without penalty. The new rules would require full and prompt disclosure of baggage fees and compensation if bags aren’t delivered on time. (Source: DOT)
Front of the Plane is Filling Up Again
Passengers are moving to the front of the plane, according to the International Air Transport Association. In March, the latest figures currently available, premium travel was up nearly 11 percent. And for the first quarter, it was up 7.4 percent. Part of that , of course, was because business and first class travel plummeted by 25 percent in 2009 and 2008. However, premium travel is now growing slightly faster than economy travel.
The recovery varies greatly by region—it’s strongest in Asia, weaker in Europe and across the North Atlantic. IATA reasons that business confidence is returns faster than consumer confidence, which means business travel will recover faster than leisure travel.
Although just ten percent of travelers fly in the front of the plane, they account for 30 percent of revenues. (Source: IATA).
Summer Weather and the Three-Hour Tarmac Delay Rule Could Mean More
Delays and Cancellations
Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com, the airfare tracking website, says that the combination of volatile and fast-moving summer weather and the new rule limiting tarmac delays to three hours could cause airlines to cancel more flights this summer.
Seaney says that the Federal Aviation Administration says that summer storms come up more quickly and move faster than winter storms, grounding flights and causing a chain reaction of delays to ripple throughout the nation’s air traffic systems. Airlines, which understandably want to avoid the $27,500 fine per passenger for delays of over three hours, are canceling flights pre-emptively to avoid those fines.
That means, watch the weather and keep in close touch with your travel agent to make sure you’re at the head of the line, figuratively speaking, in the event of a delay or cancellation. (Source: FareCompare.com).
Pilot Labor Unrest Mounts as Contracts
Pilots are getting impatient with management after years of making pay concessions to airlines facing or falling into bankruptcy. Pilots for AirTran, Spirit and Jazz, the low-cost Canadian carrier, have voted to authorize strikes.
United Airline pilots have picketed to protest the outsourcing of pilot and other airline employee jobs. And American Airlines pilots criticized the carrier’s management during American’s annual meeting last month.
The Allied Pilots Association, which represents American’s pilots, voiced its support for Spirit pilots. It said that it cannot let what it calls an industry-wide “race-to-the-bottom” mentality to continue. Meanwhile, ALPA’s president, Capt. John Prater, called on Congress to reform bankruptcy codes, which he says now let companies strip workers of bargaining rights, while executives keep getting big bonuses. (Source: APA, APA).