Tough TSA Security Checks

TSA Toughens Security for Passengers from Nations Sponsoring Terrorism
In the wake of a failed bombing attempt on a flight into the United States on Christmas, U.S. Transportation Security Administration has mandated anyone flying into the U.S. from anywhere in the world who is coming from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest must undergo a tougher security check, including the use of enhanced screening technologies.

tsa security

That means increased gate screening, including pat-downs and bag searches. Passengers will be told to stow personal items, turning off electronics and stay seated for certain parts of the flight.

Additionally, the Canadian Air Transportation Security Authority (CATSA) has disallowed carry-on bags for those passengers originating in Canada and traveling to the United States. Air Canada is waiving excess baggage fees, letting customers check up to three additional bags at no extra charge. (Source: CTSA, TSA directives and press releases).

Business Travel Advocates Propose Aviation Security Systems Improvements
The business travel community has been pinpointing gaps in aviation security and ways to improve it. Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, pointed out that the accused terrorist´s own father notified U.S. officials of his son’s extreme religious views and that the suspect had been placed in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment database but not on the terrorist selectee list or no-fly list.

Mitchell said that Britain had refused the suspect´s visa request, according to the London Daily Mail. Mitchell said the U.S. should focus on questioning passengers and better screening instead of restricting passenger movement in flight. The U.S. Travel Association recommended that the government use screening techniques that strengthen security, balance travelers' privacy needs and improve traveler facilitation.

It highlighted whole body imaging (WBI) and using more security dogs both security measures that it believes should be looked at more carefully. The National Business Travel Association urged aviation and homeland security officials to consider risk-management security programs when reviewing current and future airline passenger protection regulations. (Source: BTC, TA, NBTA press releases).

DOT Limits Tarmac Delays to Three Hour Travelers did get some good news. The Department of Transportation limited the amount of time domestic flights can sit on the tarmac to three hours, unless security concerns or safety deem otherwise.

After two hours, carriers have to give passengers food and drink. The rule goes into effect 120 days after it is published in the Federal Register. Source: (DOT press release.)

Airline Numbers Showing Improvement
The failed terrorist attempt came just as aviation numbers were improving. November´s international traffic was up 2.8% over November 2008, according to the International Air Traffic Association.

Passenger demand was up 6.4% from its lows of 2008 but still below the peaks of early 2008. And OAG, which tracks airline supply worldwide, said that global capacity was up 4% in December 2009 over December 2008, although North American flight frequencies declined 2%. And, the Airline Reporting Corp., which processes airline ticket purchases, reported that for the first time since September 2008, total sales in November were up--by 6.72% over November 2008. (Source: IATA, OAG, and ARC press releases.)

New US-Japan Open Skies Agreement Liberalizes Air Service on Pacific
A new Open Skies agreement between the U.S. and Japan means that airlines from both countries can select routes and destinations based on consumer demand for both passenger and cargo services, without limitations on the number of U.S. or Japanese carriers that can fly between the two countries or the number of flights they can operate. 

It will remove restrictions on capacity and pricing, and provide unlimited opportunities for cooperative marketing arrangements, including code sharing, between U.S. and Japanese carriers.  The agreement also would provide opportunities for growth of U.S. carrier operations at Tokyo´s Narita Airport. (Source: DOT press release).

Airlines Information, May 2008

Airlines Up Change Fees, Institute Minimum Stay Requirement

In airlines ongoing quest for additional revenues in the face of $120-a-barrel oil, several network carriers have upped their change fees and re-instituted Saturday night stay and/or minimum stay requirements.

Airlines

United Airlines increased its change fees by 50 percent to $150 and added a Saturday night stay requirement on routes in about 65 percent of its markets.

Continental upped its change fee to $150 for domestic and $250 for international flights. US Airways upped the cost of its change fees by $50, to $150 for domestic and $250 for international flights.In some instances, top customers, such as elite members of airline loyalty programs, are exempt from these fees.

In addition, United, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Northwest Airlines and Continental have instituted minimum stay requirements on all or many of their routes.

Meanwhile, most network carriers and some low cost carriers, including JetBlue and AirTran have added fees for checking a second bag; fees range from$10 to $25. (Source: airline press releases).

Compensation Doubles for Involuntary Bumping
If you’re involuntarily bumped from your flight, you’ll get twice as much as you used to get. Effective this month, if you’re bumped you can receive up to $400 if you’re rescheduled to arrive within two hours of your original arrival time on domestic flights, four hours on international flights, and up to $800 if you’re not rerouted within that time frame.

The rule now covers aircraft seating 30 people or more; it previously covered flights with 60 seats and up. Reimbursement is determined by the price of the ticket, its refundability and the length of the delay. (Source: DOT press release).

DOT, FAA Announce Plans Designed to Ease Congestion
Even though airlines are reducing their domestic capacity, many by as much as five percent, aviation congestion remains a problem.

The Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration have announced a new routing alternative that will provide an “escape route” into Canadian airspace so that aircraft can fly around summer thunderstorms and high winds. And, the FAA is opening a second westbound route for aircraft, which will provide a parallel route along a heavily traveled corridor, which should cut westbound delays out of New York.

The DOT has also proposed auctioning off a limited amount of slots-the number of flights airlines can operate in a single day-at LaGuardia. The Air Transport Association, an airline trade group, is opposing such market-based solutions, saying that the DOT doesn’t have the authority to institute auctions and congestion pricing and that they are inconsistent with international practices. (Source: DOT, ATA press releases.)

Fare Expert Finds Majority of Airline Attempts to Hike Fares Are ticking
When Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines announced their proposed merger, they said that stratospheric oil prices have fundamentally changed the economics of aviation.

Oil prices are fueling mergers and other alliance, bankruptcies (more than a half dozen this spring, with the latest being the premium transatlantic carrier Eos), capacity reductions and ongoing fare hikes.

Rick Seaney, CEO of the airfare monitoring site FareCompare.com, has been tracking airline fare increases and reports that the airlines have attempted 14 price hikes so far this year; nine have been successful.

Summer demand and soaring fuel prices are making airlines comfortable with these increases, meaning travelers need to lock in summer travel now. (Source: FareCompare.com)

Virgin Atlantic Adds Second Dulles-London Flight for Summer
Virgin Atlantic has begun a second daily flight between Washington Dulles International and London Heathrow. The flight will operate until October 26. (Source: Virgin Atlantic press release).