Transportation: Air Travel
Flying? Here's news that could affect you.
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Airlines look to end traveler protections
|2018-Feb-08  (Updated: 2018-Feb-25)||By: Barry Shatzman|
The Trump administration has asked airlines what consumer protections they would like removed. Airlines have responded.
Among the regulations airlines have asked to be eliminated are...
For more, read the San Francisco Chronicle story.Jump to top of page
Bags with built-in chargers restricted from planes
|2017-Dec-06||By: Barry Shatzman|
A recent travel development has been bags and luggage with built-in phone and device chargers. But beware if you buy one - airlines might not allow it on the plane.
The same is true for other "smart bags" - which may have features such as weight sensors, remote locking, and GPS sensors. The problem is the lithium-ion batteries they typically use, which airlines say is a fire risk.
You have a better chance of being able to bring these smart bags if the battery is removable and you carry it with you rather than check it. It's easier to fight a fire in the cabin than it is in the cargo hold, according to airlines.
But even if you carry such a bag or backpack on, you still may be required to be able to remove the battery.
In 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration reported 31 incidents involving such batteries.
For more, read the NPR story.Jump to top of page
DOT withdraws rule requiring airlines to disclose fees
|2017-Dec-05  (Updated: 2017-Dec-08)||By: Barry Shatzman|
A proposed rule requiring that airlines disclose baggage and other fees to customers buying tickets has been withdrawn by the Trump administration.
The original rule, proposed by the Obama administration in 2014, would have required airlines to disclose all fees - including those for checked baggage and choosing a seat.
According to the rule...
"The Department's goal is to protect consumers from hidden and deceptive fees and enable them to determine the true cost of travel in an effective manner when they price shop for air transportation. The problem of hidden fees has been brought to our attention by consumer complaints... We also note that members of Congress representing constituents have expressed support for full, more specific, disclosure of ancillary service fees."
In the final days the Obama administration, the rule was loosened - still requiring airlines to disclose baggage fees but no longer requiring them to disclose other fees.
It had yet to take effect when Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao withdrew it.
Click here to read the Obama administration proposed rule requiring airlines to disclose fees.
Click here to read the memo from Chao revoking the proposed rule.
For more, read the Bloomberg news report.
Senate looks to increase TSA funding
|2016-May-24  (Updated: 2016-May-31)||By: Barry Shatzman|
The Senate is looking to increase Transportation Security Administration (TSA) funding next year to help shorten the long times air passengers are waiting in line to be screened.
The additional $228 million would pay for more than a thousand new screeners, as well as other enhancements.
But the TSA could have had this money all along. In 2014, the TSA security fee paid by travelers increased from $2.50 per flight segment to $5.60 per flight. However, most of the additional revenue goes to the General Fund to pay for things other than security.
Even if the increase is approved by both houses of Congress, it is for the 2017 fiscal year, meaning the none of the improvements would start to take effect until at least October.
Slower airport security could mean 3-hour lines
|2016-May-02||By: Barry Shatzman|
If you're traveling by air any time soon, you might need to arrive at the airport 3 hours early to be sure you make your flight. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is anticipating extra long lines for passengers trying to make it through security to get to their gates.
The long waits are the result of several factors, including...
American Airlines says that over a week in March more than 6,500 passengers missed their flights because of long waits to get through security.
For more, read the New York Times story.Jump to top of page
TSA screeners fail more than 95 percent of security tests
|2015-Jun-02||By: Barry Shatzman|
Government agents tried 70 times to sneak weapons and other prohibited materials through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints at U.S. airports. They succeeded 67 times.
As a result of the tests, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has replaced its director and is evaluating changes to its equipment, training, and screening procedures, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said.
TSA fees increasing, but little goes to security
|2014-Jul-22||By: Barry Shatzman|
Air travelers will start paying a bit more for flights, as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is raising its fee to $5.60 for all flights.
The current fee is $2.50 for a non-stop flight or $5 for a flight with multiple segments.
Layovers longer than 4 hours will count as a separate flight, further increasing the cost to some.
Not all of the money, however, will be used to increase security. The appropriations bill providing the increase calls for most of the additional revenue to be used for the General Fund through 2023.
For more, read the USA Today story.Jump to top of page
Government wants airlines and travel agents to disclose fees
|2014-May-23||By: Barry Shatzman|
Comparing airline ticket prices could become easier in the near future.
New regulations proposed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) would require airlines to list all fees for services such as checking bags and choosing a seat.
Travel websites such as Priceline and Kayak also would be required to list fees clearly. These sites typically list fares for various airlines, but those prices do not include the various service fees.
The proposed regulations also call for airlines to more clearly disclose if another airline - such as a smaller regional airline, would be operating a flight sold by the major airline (see our related story below).
For more, read the New York Times story.
To read the full DOT proposal, click here.
For a better understanding of issues facing air travelers and what you can do about it, read our discussion of this issue.
Report criticizes regional airline practices
When you buy an airline ticket for one airline, there's a good chance at least part of your trip will be on a different airline. And you might not know it until you get to the airport and find yourself being charged an unexpected baggage fee. Worse, the airline you end up flying on might have different safety procedures - and a different safety record - than the one you thought you would be flying on.
Major airlines routinely shift passengers onto planes run by smaller regional airlines. In fact, more than half of all scheduled commercial passenger flights are flown by these smaller airlines, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The practice is known in the airline industry as code sharing - because the regional airline uses the major airline's two-letter flight designator code (as well as the major airline's logos and uniforms).
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not review these agreements between airlines, the report said, even though they could alert the FAA to performance stipulations in the contract that might influence a regional airline's safety policies.
The text of the report is 15 pages long. You can read it here.
For a better understanding of this and other issues facing air travelers and what you can do about it, read our discussion of this issue.