A new DOT rulemaking, released after 1,000 days of deliberations, is momentous and will eventually change the way airline tickets are sold, how on-time and lost luggage is reported and how online travel agents interact with their customers.
This weekend we look at improvements to Google Maps, we learn about a new startup that hopes to get passengers their just compensation from airlines and we discover how much airlines are making from their baggage fees.
The most irritating fees are the fees for the trip not taken. Fees beyond the nonrefundable ticket itself, which can at least partially, in some cases, be used for a future credit, less a penalty. Fees like preferred boarding, priority access and more.
A favorite joke of many of us in the travel industry goes something like this. A traveler goes to the airline check-in counter and tells the agent, "I'm going to Houston, but I want you to send one of my suitcases to Dallas and the other one to Washington, D.C." The agent shakes her had and says, "I'm sorry, we can't do that." The passenger says, "Why not, you did it last week?"
US Airways and Delta Air Lines are moving to eliminate transferring baggage from their flights to connection flights of other airlines. This will present consumers with a major hassle, especially for international flights.
Being misleading and deceptive in order to get the sale, has been the province of unscrupulous companies and salesmen for centuries. The warning, "buyer beware," goes back millennia. However, continuing with that duplicity after the sale is beyond the pale.
Airlines are going out of their way to separate their top customers from the rabble that fills the back of their planes. In the old days, first-class passengers got bigger seats, full meals, free drinks and early boarding. They still do. But, now with new perks the differences are staggering.
It seems some days when flying that the airlines have forgotten the customer (unless you are paying full fare for business- or first-class). These days, airlines are run by the numbers — bottom-line numbers — instead of with excellence of customer service in mind.
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When your airline surprises you with an increased baggage fee during your holiday flights, it will be a bitter holiday surprise. It is time that the Department of Transportation put their regulatory foot down and stop this unfair practice.