Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New DOT Rules for Passenger Rights

FLYERS RIGHTS Applauds New DOT Passenger Rights Rules to Close Loopholes, Protect Consumers’ Wallets

Leading National Grassroots Movement for Newly Passed Passengers Rights Praises DOT, Continues its Fight for Transparency, Accountability on Fees and Booking

Napa, CA—August 23, 2011. Kate Hanni, founder and Executive Director of FlyersRights.org, praised today’s implementation of new Department of Transportation (DOT) airline passenger protections. Effective today, international flights will fall under the same requirements as domestic flights as they will no longer be able keep passengers on the tarmac indefinitely. The new protections also increase compensation from $650.00 and $1,300.00 depending on the length of the delay. Additionally, the new rules provide that carriers must publish all fees for their optional services, and provide for a refund of your baggage fees if your baggage is lost.

“Today represents another major victory for airline passengers as all commercial airlines operating in the U.S. will now fall under the Tarmac Delay Rule while consumers will now enjoy a number of new common sense protections,” said Kate Hanni. “These improvements to the existing passenger rights regulations will help create accountability and greater efficiency in commercial air travel.”

“Perhaps best of all, these new rules that we have fought so hard for, will make sure that passengers will no longer be forced to pay for the privilege of having their luggage lost by an airline,” added Hanni.

For decades, the commercial airlines have successfully managed to convince the DOT to police themselves when it comes to how they treat passengers—essentially preventing any meaningful reforms from taking place. DOT data has proven beyond any doubt that the DOT Passengers Rights rules, including the 3 Hour Rule, are in fact market-based and have actually made the airlines more efficient. These new rules enacted today, just like those that came before, will also prove to be a major benefit to consumers, while serving to enhance the long term health of the industry.

While celebrating the implementation of the new rules, FlyersRights.org also expressed disappointment that the DOT’s plans to delay until January other key provisions of their rulemaking, including requirements to publish all fees and taxes as part of the fare, rapid passenger notification of flight status changes, and requiring airlines and ticket sellers hold reservations for 24 hours before requiring purchase.

“We look forward to new rules which will afford consumers much greater transparency and better information when they travel— allowing the marketplace to operate more cleanly and efficiently,” said Hanni. “We are hopeful the DOT will consider putting them into effect before the holiday travel season this year.”

FlyersRights.org is the largest non-profit airline consumer advocacy group in America. For further information, contact Kate Hanni at (707) 337-0328 or kate@flyersrights.org.

Newsletter Week of Aug. 21st

This Week, New Passenger Protections!

New DOT Ruling Takes Effect

TSA Security Committee Blunder

TSA Cargo Screening Procedures

Social Networking Reminder

New DOT Ruling Takes Effect

DOT LogoToday, August 23rd, new Department of Transportation (DOT) rules will make air traveling a little bit easier. A year of fighting has paid off, and our new rulemaking will essentially be implemented!

  • International flights will come under the Tarmac Delay Rule (although with a four-hour limit)
  • Bumping fees will double
  • Carriers will have to publish all fees for their optional services

However, the DOT has bowed to airline pressure and delayed other elements of their rulemaking, including

  • Requirements to publish all fees and taxes as part of the fare
  • Rapid passenger notification of flight status changes
  • Requiring airlines and ticket sellers hold reservations for 24 hours before requiring purchase have been delayed until January.

We achieved many of our goals, at least at the DOT rulemaking level, but this decision underlines the need for us to stay in the fight and stay vigilant! Help by donating to FlyersRights.org or to our 501(c)3 arm, the Flyers Rights Education Fund.

TSA Security Committee Blunder

In the wake of the Pan Am Flight 103 tragedy, the Federal Aviation Agency formed anAviation Advisory Security Committee, to "develop recommendations for the improvement of methods, equipment, and procedures to improve civil aviation security." When the TSA was formed after 9/11, responsibility for civil aviation security was transferred to that agency. The committee operated under the TSA until late 2006, when it was discontinued.

On July 7th, the TSA published notice in the Federal Register that they intended toTSA Funny Logoreestablish the committee. The notice listed several "constituencies" that would be represented on the committee, among them "aviation consumer advocates."

We wrote to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on July 20th, seeking information on the aviation consumer advocate position. Quite honestly, who would be a better aviation consumer advocate than Kate? She was more than willing to once again serve in that role on a government committee, as she did on the DOT's 2008 Tarmac Task Force.

After a fifteen-day delay, Dean Walter of the DHS responded "At this time we do not have any vacancy in the Aviation Consumer Advocate constituency group, where FlyersRights.org would best fit." We then asked who was filling the position, and Mr. Walter replied "At this point we cannot release that information."

We were not the only advocates ignored (but we're the most effective). Kate provided a list of advocates to Smartmoney.com's author, Quentin Fottrell, who asked the other advocates and learned that they were also excluded.

So DHS created and filled a committee in less than a month, and we are excluded from that committee. Coupled with that is their unwillingness to meet with Kate, Ralph Nader, and EPIC's Marc Rotenberg to discuss the American public's concern with their security methods. Clearly, this committee was filled with members who will not offend anyone in DHS, and will not act as a true voice for airline passengers.

TSA Cargo Screening Procedures

We have long argued that the cargo carried under our feet on airliners is at least as big aAir Cargothreat as is a mom with two kids. Although they seldom acknowledge airline traveler concerns, the TSA has for years been working on what they call the Certified Cargo Screening Program, in response to a congressional requirement"...that all cargo transported on a passenger aircraft be screened for explosives as of August 1, 2010."

It is now August, 2011, and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAES) reports that the TSA has issued their final rule on cargo screening. According to the AAES Newsletter,

The effective date for the rule and deadline for any comments to the docket is Sept. 19.

According to TSA, the rule will:

  • Enable parties other than aircraft operators to screen the cargo that is transported on passenger aircraft to meet the 9/11 mandates.
  • Provide the regulatory requirements for facilities participating in the CCSP, such as qualifications of screening personnel, security threat assessments (STAs), adoption of security programs and cargo screening procedures.
  • Impose new requirements on U.S. aircraft operators and foreign air carriers with respect to the cargo screening and enable acceptance of screened cargo from CCSFs.
  • Establish a system to authorize TSA-approved validators to perform assessments of CCSFs.
  • Expand existing STA requirements to encompass STAs for certain personnel of certified cargo screening facilities and approved validation firms and establish a five-year renewal cycle for all cargo personnel required to have STAs under 49 CFR 1540.203
  • Amend the list of biographic information that applicants and operators must provide TSA, so that TSA can conduct more efficient threat assessments. In addition, the rule adds provisions to facilitate the use of comparable threat assessments in place of the assessments that TSA otherwise requires.

Social Networking Reminders

Facebook LogoFor the very latest in airline passenger rights news, Facebook users can "like" the FlyersRights Fan Page. Also, please check in on our Flyers Rights Education Fund Cause Page. As our new 501(c)3 arm grows, your support of the Cause page will give us increased visibility on the web, spreading the word on airline passenger rights issues. Please also "Take a Minute" to generate money for the C3.

Twitter fans can also follow us on Twitter.Twitter Follow

Our Social Networking Coordinator is doing a great job "feeding" these new ways to keep you informed on the latest news.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

"The War Is Not Over"
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Hotline: (877) 359-3776

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Strand-In Invitation to Congress

Coalition for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights

August 16, 2007

To the Honorable Proper name here
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C.

Dear Representative or Senator name:
I am a member of the Coalition for an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights and your loyal constituent. I am cordially inviting you to attend a simulation of the experiences that people like me and tens of thousands of American passengers have endured at the hands of commercial airlines.
If you have ever wanted to see first-hand what being trapped in an aircraft for 8 to 14 hours against your will is like – then please join our organization for this important event. The Coalition for an Airline Passenger’s Bill of Rights is holding a Strand-In on the National Mall between 12th and 13th Streets on September 19th. Look for the Flyers Rights airplane on the mall. Coalition members from around the country, students, and members of Congress who support the need for Congressional action on behalf of airline passengers are gathering to make their voices heard in regard to the continuing inhuman treatment of airline passengers.
The purpose of the Strand-In is to convince Congress that the FAA Reauthorization Bills (H.R. 2881 and S. 1300) must require airlines to establish a maximum tarmac delay period and to have the U.S. Secretary of Transportation enforce them. According to the Department of Transportation, the contingency plans currently offered by the airlines are not enforceable.
I am only asking for you to attend for a few minutes to demonstrate your support. If you cannot make it, I would appreciate you sending a staff member.
Our organization expects a large national media presence for this event. Speeches will be from noon to 1:00 pm. If you wish to make any formal remarks, please let the Coalition know in advance (see contact information below). We anticipate a full flight - so reserve your seat soon!
I promise you won’t be bumped.
Your name and your address
Member of the Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights
Getting there: Use the Smithsonian Metro Station – exit at 12th and Jefferson. Very limited parking is available on Jefferson and in general area. Use mass transit or taxi.
For more information about the Strand-In, up-to-date information (copies of Coalition materials, etc.), please visit www.flyersrights.org or contact:
Kate Hanni
(707) 337-0328, or
Mark Mogel
(610) 564-6813

Strand In Media Advisory: CAPBOR

For Immediate Release: Contact: Kate Hanni, (707) 337-0328

Stranded Airline Passengers Participate in Simulated Strand-In on the National Mall to Bring Attention to Passengers’ Rights Legislation Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2007

Stranded Passengers from Across the Nation Will Urge Members of Congress for Swift Action that will Give Passengers Rights and a Legal Voice Aboard Commercial Planes
Washington, D.C. (September 14, 2007) – Passengers from across the country who have been victims of disturbing strand-in situations at the hands of commercial airlines will stage a simulated strand-in situation on the National Mall, Wednesday, September 19 to bring attention to passengers’ rights legislation. Members of the Coalition for an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights (CAPBOR) joined by students and members of Congress who support the need for Congressional action on behalf of airline passengers are gathering to make their voices heard against the continuing inhumane treatment of airline passengers.
CAPBOR is urging Congress to ensure that the FAA Reauthorization Bills (H.R. 2881 and S. 1300) require airlines to establish a maximum tarmac delay period and to have the U.S. Secretary of Transportation enforce them. According to DOT, the contingency plans currently offered by the airlines are not enforceable.
Kate Hanni, Founder and Executive Director of CAPBOR will be joined by Coalition member-organizations Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), former commercial airline pilots, former jet engineers and airline industry employees. The event will include a full multi-media experience that will open your eyes to what it's like to be stranded!
For more information on CAPBOR, visit www.flyersrights.org
WHAT: Passengers Strand-In Simulation on the National Mall
WHO: Kate Hanni, Founder and Exec. Director, CAPBOR Ed Mierzwinski, Federal Consumer Program Director, U.S. PIRG Members of Congress Passengers’ Rights Advocates
WHEN: Wednesday, September 19, 2007 Time 11:00am – 1:00 pm EDT
WHERE: National Mall between 12th and 13th streets - Washington, D.C.

We've Been Hacked !!!

Somebody must be worried about this Strand-in - our blog has been hacked - filled with spam, and shut down by google. They say they're looking at it, and apologize for the false positive.