What you need to know about that SSSS stamp on your boarding pass

SSSS! Behold the four letters that you don’t ever want to see on your boarding pass. If you find the Secondary Security Screening Selection — SSSS stamp on your ticket, you should know that the TSA agents will be treating you to an extra-special and in-depth security screening.

Lucky you!

But how, and by whom, are passengers selected for this additional form of screening? After Jo Freeman’s recent unpleasant close encounter of the TSA kind, she wants to know. Read more “What you need to know about that SSSS stamp on your boarding pass”

A survival guide to air travel in 2018

If you thought 2017 was a challenging year for airline passengers, just wait until you see what’s ahead. Read more “A survival guide to air travel in 2018”

I canceled my airline ticket within 24 hours. Where’s my refund?

When Ahmed Abdulrahim cancels a flight within 24 hours of booking it, he assumes he’ll have the money soon. Months later, he’s still waiting. Can his airline issue his refund? Read more “I canceled my airline ticket within 24 hours. Where’s my refund?”

The DOT has fined fewer airlines this year. Should you be worried?

If it seems as if airlines are getting away with more passenger-unfriendly behavior, maybe it’s because they are.

The Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the Department of Transportation (DOT), which is responsible for enforcing federal consumer-protection regulations, is on track to punish significantly fewer airlines this year, issuing 18 consent orders for $3.1 million in civil penalties. By comparison, the DOT had 29 orders worth $6.4 million for 2016, which included a $1.6 million fine against American Airlines for violating its tarmac delay rules handed down in mid-December. Barring a last-minute flurry of penalties, 2017 will be a much quieter year for the department. Read more “The DOT has fined fewer airlines this year. Should you be worried?”

Will a new bill hold the travel industry accountable?

Imagine a world where your cruise line or airline pays you if it fails to keep its schedule, you aren’t penalized for a canceled reservation if your hotel is able to resell the room and ticket change fees are related to the actual cost of changing your flight schedule.

Impossible, right? Read more “Will a new bill hold the travel industry accountable?”

Bumped from my flight to Palm Beach — why won’t American pay up?

After Samantha Gomez is denied boarding on a flight from Philadelphia to Palm Beach, Florida, she asks her airline for compensation. Why won’t it pay? Read more “Bumped from my flight to Palm Beach — why won’t American pay up?”

Transportation department taps brakes on proposed regulation requiring disclosure of airline fees

The U.S. Transportation Department surprised the travel world last month by suspending the creation of an important new consumer-protection regulation. Read more “Transportation department taps brakes on proposed regulation requiring disclosure of airline fees”

As airline complaints soar, the government comes to the rescue

Kendra Thornton is an unlikely candidate for government aid, but when Frontier Airlines recently denied her a seat on a flight from Chicago to Denver, that’s exactly what she got.
Read more “As airline complaints soar, the government comes to the rescue”

What did federal agencies do for travelers in 2013?

Oleksly Mark/Shutterstock
Oleksly Mark/Shutterstock
Ask travelers what the federal government did for them this year, and you’ll probably get a shrug, at best — or a rant about sequestration, national park closings and the Transportation Security Administration, at worst.

But there’s actually a specific answer: Federal agencies did a lot more than you might think. And, in at least one prominent case, a lot less.

When it comes to consumer protections, two agencies carried much of the water in 2013: the Department of Transportation (DOT), which oversees airlines and motorcoach safety in the United States, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which has a broad jurisdiction ranging from time-share sales to hotels. This year, the U.S. Department of Justice also played a central role in protecting travelers with a halfhearted attempt to block the creation of the nation’s largest airline.
Read more “What did federal agencies do for travelers in 2013?”