From bankruptcies to terrorist attacks, air travelers have seen it all in the last decade or so. But I can’t think of a week that’s been jam-packed with so much bad news for airline passengers since 2001. Maybe you can, but stick with me for a moment while I review the list.
The Halloween weekend stranding of more than 1,000 airline passengers at Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Conn., brought the tarmac delay activists out in full force again, pushing for new laws that they claim would prevent lengthy ground delays.
The circumstances were admittedly dreadful. On Oct. 29, air traffic controllers diverted 28 flights to Hartford after a freak snowstorm hammered the region. Many planes were grounded for hours in the blizzard, unable to reach the terminal. Supplies of food and water dwindled. Toilets became clogged. Tempers flared. Read more “Hartford tarmac stranding doesn’t justify new laws”
Katie Anderson’s son, Brooks, is 6′ 7″. The average economy class seat “pitch” on a Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 — the distance between seats on an aircraft — is between 30 and 31 inches, hardly enough room for a big guy.
When he flew between Chicago and Fort Myers, Fla., before Christmas, he squeezed his XL frame into one of Spirit’s tiny seats for takeoff, but was asked to stand for more than two hours, according to his mother.
They would not give him a bulkhead or exit row seat. He does not fit in a regular seat. His height prohibits this.
He is not overweight. It wouldn’t help to have two seats like an overweight person. This is more like a handicap. He can’t lose height.
No one would claim that any of the new travel-related laws scheduled to take effect in 2010 are game-changers for travelers. They’re relatively minor: a new credit card rule here, a new airport security policy there.
But what kind of law would really improve your travel experience next year?
Instead of asking readers for their opinions, as I do every week, I decided to hand the mike to the trade organizations in Washington that represent various parts of the travel industry. Specifically, I wanted to know which law they’d like to see passed in 2010 that they think would most benefit travelers.
It looks as if the airlines have no intention of loosening their inflexible change fee requirements to prevent a Swine Flu outbreak on planes. The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that it has begun testing hand sanitizers for flammability, and at least one source close to the agency says carriers intend to deploy bottles of the gel on their planes as flu season gets underway.
In yet another sign that the government has adopted a “get tough” approach in dealing with the airline industry, the Federal Aviation Administration today proposed near-record penalties against two airlines for safety violations.
The FAA wants United Airlines to pay a $3.8 million civil penalty for allegedly operating one of its Boeing 737 aircraft on more than 200 flights after the carrier had violated its own maintenance procedures on one of the plane’s engines.