Ralph Nader writes to United Airlines CEO Smisek, again

February 24, 2015

Jeff Smisek, CEO
United Airlines, Inc.
PO Box 06649
Chicago, IL 60606-0649

Dear Mr. Smisek,

I have not yet heard from you regarding my letter of February 13, 2015, but your employees who have read it are coming forward to describe their deteriorating working conditions. These are loyal UAL workers on the front lines, dealing with your aircrafts and your passengers, some with tenures of 20 to 30 years.

Given what the workers have given up over the years during the low point of UAL’s economic travails, it is disturbing, to say the least, for them to be saying these are the worst labor conditions they can remember. They are not only noting the demotion of many full-time workers to part-time, but also bringing to attention the outsourcing of jobs to vendors that hire low-paid and low-skilled employees, at a time of record-breaking profits for UAL. The workers are saying that they “just do not have the necessary manpower to provide our customers the service that they are paying for and deserve.”

More than customer inconvenience, their remarks raise concerns about safety risks. One comment reads: “It truly hurts that the company that I have invested a good part of my life in, is

By |February 24th, 2015|Airline|0 Comments|
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    Delta’s deceptive, limited, misleading and gutted baggage non-guarantee

Delta’s deceptive, limited, misleading and gutted baggage non-guarantee

Delta Air Lines has released its “Bags On Time” initiative. This is a textbook example of how not to show an airline is focused on basic customer service. The airline heralds its program with this uninspiring introduction. And, later adds more restrictions.

We’re committed to providing you with reliable and on-time baggage service every time you fly. That’s
why we’re backing your bags with a guarantee: if your checked bag doesn’t arrive at the carousel in 20
minutes or less after any domestic flight through March 31, 2015, you are eligible to receive 2,500 bonus
miles. Just complete the below form within three days of your flight’s arrival.

Note that you must be a SkyMiles member at the time of travel to be eligible and requests for multiple
flights must be submitted separately. Please allow up to two weeks after submitting your request for your
bonus miles to appear in your account.

AAhh! This a customer service program that gives passengers a true feeling of relief. This program is perfect example of how not to introduce a service guarantee.

• It applies only for about five weeks, until March 31. (it won’t influence most advance-purchase passengers)
• It only applies to SkyMiles program members (if you are not

By |February 22nd, 2015|Airline|0 Comments|
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    Charlie Leocha speaks about fuel surcharges and oil prices on Fox Business Channel

Charlie Leocha speaks about fuel surcharges and oil prices on Fox Business Channel

On February 6, 2014, Charlie Leocha, Chairman, Travelers United, spoke about dropping gasoline prices and stubborn airfares that refuse to drop.

Watch the latest video at video.foxbusiness.com

By |February 11th, 2015|Airline|0 Comments|
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    Emirates Airlines responds to US Airlines efforts to curtail Open Skies Treaties

Emirates Airlines responds to US Airlines efforts to curtail Open Skies Treaties

US network carriers — American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines — not satisfied with their near monopoly position domestically or with their airline alliance antitrust immunity are attempting to stop competition from the Gulf Carriers — Emirates, Etihad and Qatar.

Last week, the CEOs of these domestic airlines took their battle to eliminate competition to the White House in an attempt to stop competition.

Travelers United fully supports open competition in all aspects of aviation. Consolidation in the US airline industry and antitrust immunity grants to airline alliances have created dangerous degradation of competition in the United States. This juggernaut of anti-competitive and anti-consumer airline actions must stop.

Here is a response from Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline, supporting the view of open competition and the benefits of Open Skies Treaties.

It is clear that the global economy in the 21st century, in its many facets, is underpinned by the theories of macro-economic liberalism, so championed by the United States in the post second world war era, and that in the absence of free trade agreements, emerging markets would have stalled in their development and many other western countries would have remained in economic backwaters.

For the United States

FCC to hotels: WiFi blocking is illegal, a win for consumers

Travelers United was the lone consumer group to be part of the discussions concerning the blocking of WiFi signals by Marriott Corporation. In a series of articles by Ned Levi on our associated site, Consumer Traveler, our organization stood on the side of consumers. On January 27th, 2015 the FCC came down on the side of consumers and free access to the Internet.

Here is the FCC statement on their ruling.

In the 21st Century, Wi-Fi represents an essential on-ramp to the Internet. Personal Wi-Fi networks, or “hot spots,” are an important way that consumers connect to the Internet. Willful or malicious interference with Wi-Fi hot spots is illegal. Wi-Fi blocking violates Section 333 of the Communications Act, as amended. [47 U.S.C. § 333] The Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the commercial establishment’s premises. As a result, the Bureau is protecting consumers by aggressively investigating and acting against such unlawfulintentional interference.

In 2014, the Enforcement Bureau conducted an investigation, culminating with a Consent Decree, into this kind of unlawful activity by the operator of a resort hotel and convention center. In

By |January 28th, 2015|hotels|0 Comments|

Consumer leaders to airline CEOs: Cut airfares, now!

Prices are plummeting at gas pumps every day, yet airfares have remained steady or even increased over the past six months. As a result, consumer leaders, in a formal letter to airline CEOs, are calling on the 12 major US airline CEOs to slash airfares and do it now.

“We have seen six months of steadily dropping gas costs,” says Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.com, a 50,000-member airline passenger organization. “By any measure, the money saved by the airlines should be reflected in lower airfares.”

Airlines are the ones who clearly established the link between fuel and airfares. For the past half-a-decade while fuel costs were rising, airlines were increasing airfares and regularly releasing story after story about the dire need for fuel surcharges, baggage fees and other ancillary fees.

“Because of the big airline mergers, competition has been squeezed out of the system,” notes Charlie Leocha, chairman of Travelers United (formerly Consumer Travel Alliance) who led consumer efforts against the American Airlines/US Air merger. “With only three network carriers, airlines now have the luxury of ignoring the market and maintaining high prices and low capacity.”

>“Our organizations are making it clear to Congress and the Department of Justice that the market is not working,” says Hudson. “Consumers

By |January 26th, 2015|Airline|0 Comments|

Airline traffic and capacity numbers for 2014

 

 

By |January 25th, 2015|Airline|0 Comments|
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    Top travel consumer groups challenge airline CEOs to lower airfares

Top travel consumer groups challenge airline CEOs to lower airfares

Two of the largest advocacy groups working to protect travelers have asked airlines to reduce airfares and fuel surcharges in light of the dramatic drop in jet fuel prices. Experts and pundits have proffered many explanations as why airlines are not passing these massive savings along to passengers. However, so far passengers have heard nothing from airlines in the form of an explanation.

While fuel prices were soaring, the airlines never missed any opportunity to tell passengers and the American public about their struggles with increasing fuel costs. Fuel costs were used as the excuse for “unbundling” airfares and instituting the unpleasant and still expanding world of baggage fee, reservation fees and scores of others.

It is time that airlines began explaining to the public about why they are refusing to lower airfares. Especially, since airlines worked so hard to explain why they were “forced” to raise these airfares when faced with the opposite situation.

We know that the airlines have received this letter. Travelers United has already received phone calls from the airlines about the missive.

Here is the letter sent to every airline CEO. This one was sent to Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines.
Doug Parker
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
American Airlines

By |January 24th, 2015|Airline|0 Comments|
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    Delta Air Lines disputes DOT fines after misleading and deceiving consumers

Delta Air Lines disputes DOT fines after misleading and deceiving consumers

Delta Air Lines is contesting a fine imposed by the Department of Transportation (DOT). The fine was imposed for failing to disclose code-share details about flights that they were selling. In other words, Delta would sell a flight across the Atlantic, let’s say, and a consumer would think they were buying a ticket on a Delta plane with a Delta pilot and a Delta crew, but they were actually purchasing a flight on Air France or KLM. Consumers were misled and deceived.

Or, Delta would allow domestic passengers on regional carriers to believe that they were actually flying on a Delta aircraft when, in fact, they were flying on a completely different airline. Many of these regional aircraft are dressed in Delta paint jobs and have Delta flight numbers, but are operated by a complete different airline.

According to DOT, “Code-sharing is a common industry practice in which an airline sells seats on flights using its own designator code, but the flights are operated by a separate airline.” Their fines imposed on Delta are “part of an ongoing effort by the Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office to ensure that airlines and ticket agents comply with the code-share disclosure rules that promote

Dear new Congress, Don’t forget travel competition

The Senate and House are in the midst of reorganization related to the changeover created by the last election. There are several issues that remain unresolved and some big ones coming up with the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration bill that will be considered later this year.

Norwegian Air International approval
Theoretically, Congress should remain out of this issue. This deals with a treaty that has already been signed and that has been negotiated between the US and many countries. The approval process is clear and should have been completed months ago according to the European Union.

The Norwegian Air International (NAI) application for a foreign air carrier permit should be approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT). This airline will offer much needed competition for the current cabal of three international airline alliances that currently control more than 80 percent of the international market.

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are major players in Oneworld, SkiTeam and Star Alliance. British Airways and Iberia are teamed with American. Air France/KLM is teamed with Delta, and Lufthansa is teamed with United Airlines.

Though airlines and their unions claim that the introduction of NAI into the mix of transatlantic flights would have