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”
It’s not your imagination. Your consumer rights are vanishing.
Not a day seems to go by that you don’t see news of another consumer regulation being dismantled, a law coming undone, an anti-consumer executive order being signed. “Your consumer rights are disappearing. Here’s how to protect yourself now.”
Do you have the right to room on a plane?
If you answered “no,” you’re probably with the majority of American travelers. After all, airlines are private companies, and you always have the option of paying more for an upgraded seat, don’t you?
“Space wars are shifting to the human rights front”
Pat Busovicki’s Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Dream almost ended in a nightmare.
“Are cruise lines doing enough to protect their passengers?”
Information is power.
No industry understands that better than airlines, which parcels out information about itself on a need-to-know basis, if it does at all. Don’t believe me? Then maybe you weren’t one of the thousands of air travelers affected by last week’s polar vortex, and who were stranded and left in the dark about their flights.
To get a true idea of the airline industry’s tortured relationship with information, consider what happened to Melissa Buchanan when she booked a flight for her mother from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Montego Bay, Jamaica.
“I inadvertently selected the wrong destination on her booking,” she says. She phoned Spirit Airlines to ask it to cancel her flight, and it told her that any changes or cancellations made after confirming a reservation carry a fee of $125 through its reservation center or $115 if done online.
But Spirit neglected to mention one very important detail.
“Why do airlines hate it when you know your rights?”
Beyond the fact that you don’t have too many, what do you know about your rights as an airline passenger? If you said “not much,” then you’re in good company.
Like Judy Williams. When the airline lost her luggage en route to a conference in Asheville, N.C., a representative promised to find it. But by the time she was reunited with her suitcase two days later, she’d already attended a professional conference wearing jeans and a T-shirt — not ideal attire for an attorney.
Did I say attorney? I sure did. Even someone who practices law doesn’t necessarily know her rights.
“Whaddya know about airline passenger rights? Not much”
Maybe it was the string of customer-service disasters, starting with the Costa Concordia tragedy last year and leading up to the recent Carnival Triumph “poop” cruise, on which passengers were left adrift in the Gulf of Mexico for five days without working toilets.
Maybe it was the threat of government regulation from Sen. Charles Schumer (D.-N.Y.), a vocal critic of the cruise industry, that made it move.
Then again, maybe we should just take the cruise industry at its word on its decision, announced just before the Memorial Day holiday, to introduce a passenger “bill of rights.”
“Can you trust the cruise lines’ new passenger “bill of rights”?”