Their advocacy results in big, embarrassing airline fines. They’ve helped create federal agencies that make air travel safer. And they’ve brought competition and transparency to the skies. “You’ve never heard of these people, but they’ve changed the way you fly”
If you’re a right-leaning reader or a fan of the current presidential administration, you probably won’t make it past the headline of this story. And if you do, it will only be for the purposes of scrolling down to leave an angry comment at the end of the article.
But if by chance you made it this far, please remember last week’s column on how the Trump administration could help consumers. And also, that there are at least two sides to every story — especially this one. “Donald Trump is bad for consumers. Here’s why.”
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.
“As airline complaints soar, the government comes to the rescue”
The days of a freewheeling, lightly regulated airline industry, in which a carrier can charge whatever fees and fares it pleases, may be nearing an end.
A confluence of events is pressuring government regulators to take action that, depending on your point of view, will make air travel less expensive or interfere with a free market, driving ticket prices higher.
“Should airlines be re-regulated?”
Government fines against airlines for consumer rule violations are on track to hit a six-year low as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s enforcement actions shift from punishment to preventing infractions. With only a few weeks left in 2014, the DOT has issued 23 consent orders that assess $2.6 million in penalties — $4.5 million less than last year. That’s the same number as in 2009.
“Federal government wraps up quiet year for traveler protections”
Donald Lessard did a double take when he saw the name on his airline ticket: “Donald Jeffries.”
“Trouble on the road? Maybe the government can help (seriously)”
Frequent-flier programs are rigged to favor airlines, deceive passengers and cost consumers billions of dollars. At least that’s the contention of one Florida frequent traveler named Alan Grayson.
“Should the government regulate loyalty programs?”
The government shutdown was supposed to be a non-event for travelers, but it didn’t quite turn out that way.
When a gridlocked Congress shuttered vast sections of the federal government on Oct. 1 and furloughed 800,000 workers, its decision touched tourists in unexpected ways, from abruptly canceling a camping trip in a national park to foiling a destination wedding. It drained visitors from popular attractions, causing hotel occupancy rates to plummet and hurting other travel-related businesses.
Along the way, many travelers have discovered the important — and often underappreciated — part that the federal government plays in travel.
Without the government, they learned, some of the most interesting parts of the travel industry simply wouldn’t exist. “People haven’t been as aware of the government’s role in travel,” says Joshua Huder, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute.
“The government shutdown’s surprise effect on travelers”
No one was surprised by this week’s report that the Transportation Security Administration glossed over the health risks of its airport X-ray scanners.
The investigation found that anywhere from six to 100 U.S. airline passengers each year could get cancer from the machines — a hazard critics have warned about ever since the devices were quietly deployed in many airports almost two years ago.
“TSA Watch: 10 things the TSA should do on its 10th anniversary”
Stung by the traveling public’s disapproval of its one-size-fits-all approach to passenger screening, the Transportation Security Administration last month announced that it would begin testing a new trusted-traveler program. But if you think that the next time you fly, you’ll speed through the security line like it’s 1999, you’ll probably be disappointed.
Only a chosen few will qualify, at no cost, for the first phase of the identity-based pre-screening test, which is scheduled to launch this fall. Elite-level frequent fliers with American and Delta, plus members of other trusted-traveler programs such as Global Entry, which offers a shortcut throughU.S. Customs, will be eligible. And the program will initially be available in just four airports: Atlanta, Detroit, Miami and Dallas.
“TSA watch: Can you trust the new trusted-traveler program?”