It starts with a postcard saying that you’ve won an airline ticket. To collect your prize, you have to attend a brief presentation. And that’s how they getcha.
Ever want to see how customers screw up? Then spend a few hours looking over the shoulder of a consumer advocate.
Watch the emails come in — and learn.
“Need help getting a refund on a non-refundable airline ticket,” the subject line reads on a message I received a few minutes ago.
I get a lot of travel complaints.
“Yesterday, I went to ER due to heart palpitation and chest pain,” the passenger explained. He phoned his airline to ask for a refund due to his medical condition — an understandable request, coming from someone who’s an infrequent flier.
The Justice Department’s surprise lawsuit to block the proposed $11 billion consolidation of American Airlines and US Airways appears to doom the latest airline mega-merger, at least in its current form. But for airline passengers, the prospect of two stand-alone airlines is mostly good news.
Stopping the transaction will keep airfares affordable and fees in check by maintaining the present level of competition, according to the federal government. It will also give consumers more choices in air travel. “By challenging this merger, the Department of Justice is saying that the American people deserve better,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a prepared statement. Six states — including Arizona and Texas, where US Airways and American, respectively, are based — and the District of Columbia joined the DOJ in the antitrust lawsuit.
Paul Kivett’s plane broke down twice before it could take off from Chicago this summer. He arrived in Paris almost five hours late.
It’s not hard to image how much louder the public outcry would have been during the pat-down controversy last year if the Transportation Security Administration had also shut down it Screening Partnership Program, which allowed airports to privatize their security.
After all, private screeners were seen as a loophole to avoid increasingly aggressive federal transportation security officers. Several airports were reportedly considering “firing” their TSA screeners after the new body-scanners began appearing, accompanied by more intrusive physical searches.
In short, the program was an escape valve through which the traveling public let out a steam of rage. Had it not been there, who knows what would have happened?
But here’s more evidence that the federal agency charged with protecting our transportation systems understands the importance of timing. It waited until yesterday — two months after the enhanced-screening media circus — to freeze the program. I wonder how long they’ve been meaning to do that.
So what does that mean to us?