Tell us how much it costs! Passenger poll shows frustration with airline fee disclosure

In a poll conducted by Travelers United in response to requests from the Department of Transportation (DOT) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) more than 2,600 consumers dramatically responded loud and clear, “Tell us how much it costs!”

The poll was distributed to this blog; sent to be distributed to readers of other travel blogs like JohnnyJet, Bootsnall, GoNomad.com, wanderlustandlipstick; hobotraveler.com, perceptivetravel.com, tweeted out daily for two weeks; boosted on Facebook to another 50,000+ Facebook users between the ages of 25 and 55 who have traveled in the past year and the survey was spread through word-of-mouth.

We ended up with 2,600+ respondents. Once we hit about 800 respondents, the survey answers didn’t vary much. The biggest changes were in the makeup of the demographics of the surveys. We started out skewing to an older audience and then shifted to a younger group of travelers.

All age groups follow similar patterns in their answers within 2-3 percentage points. The answers were amazingly consistent. Travelers want to know how much their trip will cost. They want to be able to compare complete prices of airline transportation while planning travel and when purchasing travel.

The questions were created from suggestions included in DOT’s Transparency of airline

By |October 1st, 2014|Surveys|0 Comments|
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    Travelers United comments submitted to the docket for DOT rulemaking

Travelers United comments submitted to the docket for DOT rulemaking

Travelers United filed it comments with the Department of Transportation (DOT) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The Transparency of Airline Ancillary Fees and Other Consumer Protection Issues — Docket: DOTOST20140056 –comments totals more than 80 pages and included in-depth discussions of the main rulemaking sections.

The Travelers United comments were joined by the National Consumers League.

Here are the Appendices A, B and C for the NPRM. These include an ancillary fee study by IdeaBank, a survey conducted by Open Allied for Airfare Transparency and Travelers United, another survey conducted by Travelers United in response to requests in the NPRM from DOT.

This is App A&B&C NPRM Comments Travelers United & NCL – Google Docs

Here is the link to Appendix D — a series of screenshots that show the lack of ancillary fee price transparency in today’s airlines website.

Here are the conclusions from the comments
For the reasons discussed above, Travelers United and NCL urge the Department to issue promptly a final rule in this proceeding that requires airlines to disclose to all ticket agents through which they choose to distribute their fare, schedule and availability information, including GDSs, OTAs, metasearch websites, corporate and brick-and-mortar travel agencies, dynamic and transactable

Important survey for DOT (deadline extended)

Please click through to this survey that Travelers United is conducting in order to collect information requested by the Department of Transportation (DOT) for their work on an upcoming regulation. DOT has asked for consumer input for their consideration. Let’s let them hear it.

This is already one of the most successful surveys conducted for the DOT about the consumers’ point of view of purchasing airline tickets in the age of extra fees, since 2008.

Airline Fee Transparency Survey

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/airlinefees

Thank you. The deadline is Saturday, September 27, 2014.

Working in DC on the DOT rulemaking

Perhaps the most mysterious acronym in Washington is NPRM. It stands for Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. This is where the rubber meets the road in government. This is where the regulations are written to put laws into effect.

It is through the rulemaking process that consumer groups prevailed and got tarmac delay rules created. It is through the rulemaking process that the 24-hour rule, which allows passengers 24 hours within which to change their minds about most airline tickets or correct mistakes. It was through the rulemaking process that lost luggage and bumping compensation were increased.

Today, the new rules being considered will require airlines to disclose extra fees when consumers are purchasing their airline tickets. If Travelers United prevails, new DOT rules will allow airline passengers to see not only airfares when they check prices to compare across airlines, but also extra baggage and seat-reservation fees. And, perhaps, more.

Having a team of consumers, with the interests of consumer travelers working in Washington, DC, is something travelers never had prior to the creation of Travelers Unites (formerly Consumer Travel Alliance). But, today our organization is involved in travel from ticket purchase and advertising rules to hotel reservation fees, and from rental

Oh my, I lost my ID. How am I going to get home?

If you’re a US citizen or resident, traveling in the U.S., and your government issued photo ID, is lost or stolen, or worse, if you’re in a foreign country and your passport is lost or stolen, you don’t have to panic. Your fate won’t be the same as Charlie’s in the Kingston Trio’s song, “The Man Who Never Returned.”

When your driver’s license goes missing, immediately filed a police report. The police faxed her a copy of the report. She went to the airport and presented the police report to the TSA agent at the entrance to security. Seeing the report, the TSA agent asked if she had a Costco Card. She did. She caught a break, but you can’t depend every TSA Officer will accept it. The Costco card has its member’s photo embedded in the card. She got through security and flew home.

Most of us don’t have some kind of second photo ID when we travel, but we still can get through TSA security when traveling in the US if our government issued photo ID has been lost or stolen.

According to TSA,
Adult passengers (18 and over) are required to show a US federal or state-issued photo ID … in order to be allowed to go through the checkpoint and onto

Airline passengers beg, “Treat us like dogs”

Seat pitch in planes keeps shrinking; seats themselves become thinner and less comfortable; and the width of seats is getting narrower as Americans get, shall we say, broader. Let’s face it, coach passengers are facing a squeeze that they have never experienced before in the history of aviation.

Pets, on the other hand, are protected by specific space, food and water requirements. With the differences between the front of the plane and the back of the plane getting more dramatic, passengers are beginning to think that some kind of human minimum space requirements should be mandated.

Now that airlines have discovered their perverse marketing logic that discomfort helps them sell more seats with pitch, all humane considerations for adequate seat dimensions seem to have been tossed aside. Worse, passenger discomfort has become a profit center.
You might call it a game of aeronautical chairs that will directly affect passenger comfort, convenience and cost.

Two experts with inside knowledge of the airline seat industry — a vice president at a seat manufacturer and a nationally recognized expert in the study of body measurements — recently talked frankly about some of the reasons behind the anger and discomfort.

Americans are getting bigger, says Kathleen Robinette, who’s

Flight attendants: still the unsung heroes of 9/11

Over the years since 9/11, there have been many ceremonies, new memorials and remembrances for those who died in that day’s tragic events. The 9/11 Memorial Museum opened this year, fulfilling the desires of many of the families whose loved ones died in the Twin Towers.

Police officers, firefighters and other first responders gather every year with politicians on stages across America. Yet few remember that the first casualties of the terrorist attacks were flight attendants. Sadly, airline crew members are almost never included in the tributes.

That’s a shame.

I’ve said so on every anniversary of the September attacks, and I’ll say it again this year.

Airline flight attendants are the unsung heroes and frontline foot soldiers in this country’s “war on terrorism.” The stress on our airline systems has increased and will only get worse. And yet flight attendants continue to report to work every day, ready to do what they can to keep us safe. I hope the traveling public does not take them for granted.

Every time a plane takes off, every time a traveler stands up and walks toward the cockpit, and every time a passenger ducks behind his seat to dig through carry-on luggage, flight attendants go on

By |September 11th, 2014|Airline|0 Comments|
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    Consumer Groups ask DOT to move quickly on airline price transparency

Consumer Groups ask DOT to move quickly on airline price transparency

Here is the text of a letter that was sent to the Secretary of Transportation this week. Some of the largest consumer groups and those focused on travel asked Secretary Foxx to make sure that new rules being formulated to disclose airline extra fees to consumers are not delayed.

September 10, 2014

The Honorable Anthony Foxx
Secretary
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Regarding DOT-OST-2014-0056-0079

Dear Secretary Foxx,
We consumer groups are writing to you to urge the Department to focus on what we
consider the core issue in the current airline consumer protections NPRM – the
consumer’s ability to see, compare and buy ancillary fees. Consumers do not want
to see this issue delayed again should other portions of the complicated NPRM
require more study and analysis.

A robust docket shows that American consumers need and demand price
transparency, the ability to comparison shop increasingly complex airline tickets
along with fees for ancillary services and the ability to purchase those services
wherever airlines choose to sell their tickets.

The solution is simple. The DOT’s final rule should ensure that:
• Airline consumers can see the full cost of flying including basic ancillary fees.
• Airline consumers are able to comparison shop across airlines including
passenger and flight specific ancillary fees.
• Airline consumers are

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    Head of Travelers United to speak at ABA conference in Montreal

Head of Travelers United to speak at ABA conference in Montreal

The ABA Forum on Air & Space Law, with McGill University’s Institute of Air & Space Law, will hold its annual conference in Montreal on Sept. 18-19. The event will feature a series of panels with senior airline executives and key government decision makers concerning matters of critical importance to the aviation industry, including consumer rights, labor law issues, divergent interpretations of the Warsaw/Montreal Conventions, international aviation traffic rights, and global competition law issues.

The only consumer representative selected to present at this conference full of the world’s top aviation lawyers, is Charlie Leocha, Chairman of Travelers United. He will be speaking as a member of a panel discussion about

By |September 2nd, 2014|News|0 Comments|

Travel news: Hotels add fees like airlines, Best/worst cars in America, bus beats plane for short trips

Mimicking the airlines, hotels get fee-happy

Guaranteeing two queen beds or one king bed will cost you, as will checking in early or checking out late. Don’t need the in-room safe? You’re likely still paying. And the overpriced can of soda may be the least of your issues with the hotel minibar.

Vacationers are finding it harder to anticipate the true cost of their stay, especially because many of these charges vary from hotel to hotel, even within the same chain.

Coming out of the recession, the travel industry grew fee-happy. Car rental companies charged extra for services such as electronic toll collection devices and navigation systems. And airlines gained notoriety for adding fees for checking luggage, picking seats in advance, skipping lines at security and boarding early. Hotel surcharges predate the recession, but recently properties have been catching up to the rest of the industry.

The most hated car company in America is

The most-loved car makers include Mercedes-Benz DDAIY, +0.66% which holds its No. 1 spot from last year despite a 2% decline in customer satisfaction, and Subaru 7270, -0.20% Morgeson says that the dominance of Mercedes-Benz isn’t surprising, as luxury cars — thanks to often superior quality and service — often

By |September 1st, 2014|News|0 Comments|