February 5, 2012
The article "Before You Take Off" by Catharine Hamm [Jan. 29], reminded me of a trip I took last year. It's an example of a driving vacation that the 80% to 90% of Californians she mentioned as car trippers might appreciate: It was five days long, leaving from Whittier and going to Bryce Canyon in Utah. I stayed at Zion the first night. The ranger said the campground was full, but I found an empty site. After breakfast the next morning outside the park, I drove through fantastic scenery toward Bryce.
January 26, 2012 |
If airfares seem a little higher than usual, it's not because the airlines have raised their prices. The Department of Transportation's long-awaited new rules on what airlines can advertise as posted ticket prices go into effect Thursday. I think of it as the "no surprises" rule. The biggest change: Published airfares (online, on billboards, in print, over the phone) must include all taxes and fees. The idea is that consumers looking for the lowest airfare won't be misled by super-low prices that increase exponentially after fees and taxes are added on. The rule applies to airlines, ticket agents and online travel booking sites like Expedia, Orbitz, etc. Kayak, however, already publishes the total cost of airfares on its site.
January 16, 2012 |
After years of rebuffing health concerns over airport scanners, the Transportation Security Administration plans to conduct new tests on the potential radiation exposure from the machines at more than 100 airports nationwide. But the TSA does not plan to retest the machines or passengers. Instead, the agency plans to test its airport security officers to see if they are being exposed to dangerous levels of radiation while working with the scanners. News of the test leaked out after the TSA issued a request last month to government vendors to provide wearable, personal dosimeters, devices that measure exposure to radiation.
January 13, 2012 |
Brent Hopkins, a Michigan marketing manager, was so annoyed that a carry-on suitcase cost him $90 in baggage fees on Sprit Airlines that he launched a business to help other passengers sidestep the charges. Florida-based Spirit Airlines introduced in 2010 a fee of up to $45 for carry-on luggage that cannot fit in the space under the seats. The fee met with outrage, including threats from several lawmakers to impose a special tax on revenue collected from such fees. Instead of fuming, Hopkins created CarryOn Free, an online company that manufactures suitcases that fit the exact dimensions of the space under the Spirit seats.
January 10, 2012 |
Friday was a victory for airline passengers, but Monday? Not so much. The Department of Transportation on Friday stood firm on the effective date of new rules (Rules II, in rule-making shorthand) that will require airlines to give passengers a full accounting of their baggage fees. In its explanation of that denial, the DOT noted that airlines and others had said technical issues would make it impossible for them to meet the Jan. 24 deadline; carriers and others requested a one-year extension.
December 11, 2011 |
Question: I traveled out of San Francisco this summer. My flight was supposed to take me to Chicago, where I would connect to my flight to Munich, but it was delayed, so a United agent booked me on a nonstop Lufthansa flight instead. My two children and I had two bags each. I have United elite status so there was no bag fee, but when we checked into Lufthansa, we were told we would have to pay for the second bag. Suddenly, I had $210 in bag fees. I can't seem to get United to refund this.
November 27, 2011 |
With the busy holiday travel season in full swing, federal lawmakers, passenger rights advocates and airlines are squaring off over one of the thorniest issues in flying today: baggage fees. The bottom line is that you will probably get no reprieve from the fees any time soon. A Louisiana senator proposed legislation last week that would allow airline passengers to check one bag for free on each flight. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said the bill is meant to protect passengers from excessive fees.
September 23, 2011 |
I saw red when a USAToday survey reported that airline baggage fees had hit a whopping $450. The blogosphere quickly churned with news of airlines charging $400 to $450 fees for oversized bags on overseas flights. Then I took a deep breath and read the story more closely. It says American Airlines charges $450 for bags weighing 71 to 100 pounds on flights from the U.S. to Asia. Which is true, but who's taking 100 pounds of anything to the airport these days? American spokesman Tim Smith tells me in an email that "high-priced ... overweight bags to and from Asia is an anomaly that is beyond rare.
July 21, 2011 |
Fliers won some and lost some Wednesday when the U.S. Department of Transportation revised effective dates for a hotly disputed rule that contains a grab-bag of consumer protections. Now some sections won't take effect until next year; others will start Aug. 23 as originally planned. Here's a scorecard for some key parts of the multi-part rule, which is labeled "Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections": -- A requirement that airlines advertise the full cost of airfares, including all mandatory taxes and fees, is being delayed until Jan. 24, 2012.