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Would You Let The Airlines “Fix” Air Travel?

February 24, 2016

“SFO to JFK from $99!” “Paris from $215!”
Just kidding.

However, US Representative Curbelo (R-Fla.) introduced an amendment recently to H.R. 4441, the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act of 2016 aimed at bringing back bait-and-switch airfares. 
Current federal law requires airlines to state the total fare, including taxes. 

The “Transparent Airfares Act “? 
Wow – You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

The Transparent Airfares Act was one of those feats of Orwellian-like double-speak that would do the exact opposite of what it claims to do.  
Introduced in March 2014, it went on to defeat, probably in part because it was obviously Orwellian even for Congress. In a nutshell, it makes comparison shopping for the best fare an exercise in futility.
Can you see the day when the average flight costs more in taxes and ancillary charges than it does in the actual fare? It is already possible to do that on some flights, given the array of fees that we pay along the way.

Here’s a short list of  ‘problems’ the airline lobbying group Airlines for America (A4A) would like to have changed:
  • Current law, which requires airlines to include taxes in the base advertised price, makes airfares appear artificially higher and less competitive 
  • We need to reverse government actions legislation ‘harming’ the industry
  • Cut taxation and regulation that stifles the “free market” for U.S. airlines
  • Stop DOT thinking it needs to protect customers from airlines 

Airline seats: Tight positions

Currently, the US Department of Transportation does not impose any standards for seat legroom, width or comfort. 
It has been years since airlines have been required to conduct these tests, and back then, they used young, fit employees to conduct the tests.
Any aircraft that has subsequently reduced seat width or pitch, or has added seats per row, should be required to re-certify to the 90-second evacuation standard for that configuration, using volunteers from the general population, conforming to demographic standards, without prior training in aircraft evacuation, and with those tests supervised by the FAA.
With commercial airlines packing more passengers per plane, many fliers believe that the federal government should adopt minimum airline seat standards for legroom and width to ensure the safety, health and comfort of travelers.
That was the sentiment of more than 30,000 people who signed a FlyersRights petition that was sent to FAA chief, Michael Huerta.

It asks the FAA to put a moratorium on any further reduction in seat space and to appoint a panel to come up with minimum seat standards.
“The shrinkage of seats and passenger space by airlines to generate higher profits while the size of passengers has substantially increased has created an intolerable crisis situation,” according to the petition. “It is threatening the health, safety and comfort of all passengers.”

The airline industry is uncompromising on seat space, with an A4A spokeswoman insisting that, “the government should not regulate, but instead market forces, which reflect consumer decisions, and competition should determine what is offered.”

What an amusing attitude for an industry with little competition, that spends millions of lobbying dollars to keep lawmakers in line with their objectives, that uses predatory pricing to force rivals out.

Last week Congress shot down an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization bill last week that would have mandated more legroom for passengers on airplanes. 
Recently, FlyersRights wrote about the World Health Organization and other medical authorities “warning of higher risks of life threatening blood clots (DVT) caused by cramped seats, and lack of movement on flights over three hours. There are also societal concerns over reported increases in incidents of discord and unruly passenger disruptions due to overcrowding.
According to a recent Apex survey of air travelers, more legroom now has overwhelming public support. 
Passengers are not powerless to stop the trend to smaller seats and overcrowded airplanes. They can insist the FAA act now to set standards, and they can have a say in what those standards will be. 

We passengers don’t willingly accept the discomfort of our present treatment by the airlines. The amount of discomfort imposed on us would be negotiable if we were viewed as an organized interest group. 

In this sense, the FlyersRights Bill of Rights would recognize passengers as a distinct group with a political voice. 
The Passenger Bill of Rights boils down to respect for persons, freedom of movement and property rights. All of which are already recognized a unexceptionable, basic human rights.

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