If you rent a car in Europe this summer, you might notice a few changes. Pay attention to them. They could be coming to America soon.
When the Transportation Department (DOT) announced new “enhanced” protections for air travelers last week, the reaction was predictable. Airlines complained loudly that they were being re-regulated. Consumer groups offered a collective eye-roll, grumbling that it wasn’t enough. And the government cheerfully congratulated itself.
When someone starts an email with “Is this a completely lost cause?” the answer is usually, “yes.”
Is this one of those cases? I’ll have the answer in a moment. Actually, you’ll have the answer.
Airline seat pricing never made much sense to begin with, but leave it to United Airlines to take it to the next level.
“Gotcha” fees are everywhere, waiting for the right moment to pounce. Don’t believe me? Just ask Rich Grabowski, who recently tried to book an airline ticket for his Mediterranean cruise — a seemingly simple task.
But not really. The airline he chose, American, didn’t actually fly to Barcelona, but instead offered flights through a deceptive arrangement known as “codesharing.” That’s where an airline gets to pretend its flights are its own, but they actually belong to a different carrier.
And that someone else — the airline’s codesharing “partner” British Airways — had a little surprise for Grabowski and his wife: If they wanted to sit together, they’d have to shell out an extra $98 per ticket for his transatlantic flight. Or he could take his chances, and get a random seat assignment — the choice was entirely his.
“That’s a hidden fee,” he says. “It’s unearned money.”