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De-regulation has failed

 
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  #1  
Old Feb 25, 2009, 2:00 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Those of you who have followed my comments over the last few months will know that I am of the opinion that de-regulation of the airlines has created a situation in which safety will be compromised. The race to the bottom is dangerous and the airlines exploit bankruptcy rules to screw passengers and staff. Sadly many airline staff come on these forums and repeatedly defend their employers. I believe that the airline industry will be considerably improved if the US opened up the markets to competition. They should begin by:

1. Allowing foreign ownership and competition within the US market. The US is the largest trading nation in the world. If all other countries adopted the protectionist approach taken to protect US airlines, US Inc would go bankrupt. The US economy depends on international competition. What possible justification is there for US airlines to get special protection.

2. The bankruptcy laws, in particular use of Chapter 11, needs to be substantially revised and the management team responsible for taking an airline into Chapter 11 should be replaced and no exit payments. Any bonuses paid in the two accounting periods prior to entering Chapter 11 should be repaid. No airline should be able to enter Chapter 11 more than once in 25 years.

3. The fortress hubs should be broken up, the same way ATT was broken up in the 1980s. No airline should be able to command more than 15% to 20% of any market.

4. Protection for passengers against predatory and unfair contract terms should be introduced, regulating how airlines should treat passengers, and what the reasonable expectations of passengers should be. This should include restrictions on holding passengers hostage on airplanes for hours on end for the convenience of the airline, specific rules on how airlines should respond to weather delays, cancellations, etc. A total ban on overbooking flights.

If you think this is just a bitter passenger talking, look at these comments by Sully, a national hero and a pilot of the old school. Ask yourself if you are happy in future to be flying with a pilot who is paying the airline for the experience, and having to work many hours on other jobs to afford it, rather than seasoned professionals like Captain Sully.

Quote:
WASHINGTON – The pilot who safely ditched a jetliner in New York's Hudson River said Tuesday that pay and benefit cuts are driving experienced pilots from careers in the cockpit.

US Airways pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger told the House aviation subcommittee that his pay has been cut 40 percent in recent years and his pension has been terminated and replaced with a promise "worth pennies on the dollar" from the federally created Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. These cuts followed a wave of airline bankruptcies after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks compounded by the current recession, he said.

"The bankruptcies were used to by some as a fishing expedition to get what they could not get in normal times," Sullenberger said of the airlines. He said the problems began with the deregulation of the industry in the 1970s.

The reduced compensation has placed "pilots and their families in an untenable financial situation," Sullenberger said. "I do not know a single, professional airline pilot who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps."

The subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee heard from the crew of Flight 1549, the air traffic controller who handled the flight and aviation experts to examine what safety lessons could be learned from the Jan. 15 accident which all 155 people aboard survived.

Sullenberger's copilot Jeffrey B. Skiles said unless federal laws are revised to improve labor-management relations "experienced crews in the cockpit will be a thing of the past." And Sullenberger added that without experienced pilots "we will see negative consequences to the flying public."

Sullenberger himself has started a consulting business to help make ends meet. Skiles added, "For the last six years, I have worked seven days a week between my two jobs just to maintain a middle class standard of living."

Last edited by jimworcs; Feb 25, 2009 at 2:02 AM.
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  #2  
Old Feb 25, 2009, 4:43 AM
Butch Cassidy Slept Here Butch Cassidy Slept Here is offline
 
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I just finished watching the President’s address to Congress. It looks like Greyhound bus style air travel will be with us for sometime to come. Sadly, like the banks, the airlines have proven they can not be trusted to responsibly discharge their obligations to the public without a “policeman” (the government) looking over their shoulders—more so than is already being done. Unfortunately, it looks like money for “policemen,” at least for “airline patrol,” won’t be available any time soon. As to my use of the word “obligation,” with regard to US-based airlines: I think many, particularly those in the airline industry, lose sight of the fact that an Operating Certificate is, among other things, a public trust. It’s hard for me to understand how that sense of public trust is appreciated when you have some airline staff refer to customers as “the enemy,” and “self-loading cargo.” OK, airline staff, like this, may very well make-up the minority. On the other hand US-based airline managements have shown an astounding willingness to tolerate this minority on the basis that cost, not quality, is what matters.

Under the heading of “doable” may be getting tough with overscheduling at airports like LaGuardia/New York and O’Hare/Chicago. Until modernized air traffic control infrastructure comes on line the public needs to realize that sacrifices must be made if timetables are to bear some relationship to the real world. Higher fares must be accepted in return for convenience. Those wanting to travel on the cheap must accept longer travel times. In areas of the country experiencing congestion in air travel, “inter-modal” travel, and usage of secondary airports, must be considered. A single flight into New Castle County Airport, Wilmington, Delaware (“ILG”) could, effectively, result in service to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC if, following arrival at ILG, passengers were bussed to the Wilmington Amtrak Station and onto special rail cars. As some of the airline people on here well know this is a common technique in Europe.

Finally, it appears the Obama Administration has taken the first step toward restoring sanity to air travel by doing something that will benefit BOTH the airlines and the public (an unusual circumstance!) The “American Recovery And Reinvestment Act of 2009” (recently signed into law) provides 200 million for: improvements to power systems, air route traffic control centers, air traffic control towers, terminal radar approach control facilities, and navigation and landing equipment. Perhaps the airline people on here can provide more detail. However, it sounds like some of this stuff includes upgrading outdated navigation systems—a source of complaint from airline managements.
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  #3  
Old Feb 25, 2009, 6:15 AM
Butch Cassidy Slept Here Butch Cassidy Slept Here is offline
 
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Another air transportation goodie from the “American Recovery And Reinvestment Act of 2009” ("Stimulus Bill"):

To the TSA---
$1,000,000,000 for procurement and installation of checked baggage explosives detection systems and check-point explosives detection equipment

We can only hope that the people who search you at the airport will NOT be involved in the purchasing or installation of this equipment!

Last edited by Butch Cassidy Slept Here; Feb 25, 2009 at 6:17 AM.
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Old Feb 26, 2009, 4:55 AM
ChrisH ChrisH is offline
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Jim,

We both don't always see eye to eye, but one thing I have told you before, is that airline employees, many of them, want regulation back - especially pilots. Airline employees have been hit HARD, and I do believe that is part of the reason that customer service has fallen so far. Not only can the airlines not attract quality pilots, but they also cannot attract quality candidates to staff the passenger service position, either, which results in the quality of airline service, from the top, to the bottom, falling.

I love aviation. I love flying. It is a passion I have had, since being a little kid. It is sad what has happened to it.
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Old Feb 26, 2009, 7:03 PM
ChrisH ChrisH is offline
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I few opinions I have on this.
Originally Posted by jimworcs View Post

1. Allowing foreign ownership and competition within the US market. The US is the largest trading nation in the world. If all other countries adopted the protectionist approach taken to protect US airlines, US Inc would go bankrupt. The US economy depends on international competition. What possible justification is there for US airlines to get special protection.
I have no problem, personally, with foreign competition, within the U.S. Airline industry. I do not believe, however, that current U.S. based airlines, should be allowed under foreign ownership. I believe American companies, should remain American owned. If a foreign country wants to open/start a new carrier, in the U.S., are begin operating within the U.S., with an already established airline, I have no problem with that. I do think that some provisions have to be made, however, to protect labor, if this is allowed, and truly make it about allowing competition.

The fear that many airline employees have (specifically pilots, and their unions), is that if foreign carriers are allowed to operate point to point, within the U.S., that the current U.S. major airlines will use that as an opportunity to circumvent labor. The fear is that, for example, if British Airways is allowed to operate flights within the U.S., American Airlines (or any other U.S. Airline) will enter into a partnership/codeshare with them. American will sale tickets, but British Airways will operate their aircraft, and utilize their crew. The two airlines would share in the profits. The next thing you know, you'll be purchasing tickets on American Airlines, but it will say "operated by British Airways". This doesn't do anything to breed competition, as now the two airlines are operating with each other, as partners, sharing in the profits ... but it is American labor, that gets the shaft, because the foreign carriers are using their crews, and their aircraft.

IF foreign carriers are allowed to operate, domestically, within the United States, provisions must be made, to prevent this, and truly make it about competing for the customers, and the routes, and not entering into partnerships, and codeshares, which does way with the whole competition, and allows foreign labor to operate what was/should be American labor's job. There is already enough of this going on, and we don't need more.
Quote:
2. The bankruptcy laws, in particular use of Chapter 11, needs to be substantially revised and the management team responsible for taking an airline into Chapter 11 should be replaced and no exit payments. Any bonuses paid in the two accounting periods prior to entering Chapter 11 should be repaid. No airline should be able to enter Chapter 11 more than once in 25 years.
I 100% agree, and this needs to be the case for ALL companies, not just the airlines. Management used the bankruptcies, after 9/11, to gut labor contracts, yet management continues to receive their million dollar bonuses, on time, without question. This has got to end!

Quote:
3. The fortress hubs should be broken up, the same way ATT was broken up in the 1980s. No airline should be able to command more than 15% to 20% of any market.
I too agree. This would also breed more competition between the airlines, to hold the better of the market share.

Quote:
4. Protection for passengers against predatory and unfair contract terms should be introduced, regulating how airlines should treat passengers, and what the reasonable expectations of passengers should be. This should include restrictions on holding passengers hostage on airplanes for hours on end for the convenience of the airline, specific rules on how airlines should respond to weather delays, cancellations, etc. A total ban on overbooking flights.
I agree with most of this. Keep in mind, most overbooking is done, because there is a hirtorical percentage of people who do not show for certain flights. When all do show, compensation is given. If overbooking is stopped, fares will increase. I recently watched a TV show, in which it was stated that if airlines did not overbook, we would be paying nearly twice as much, for fares. Maybe this is what we need, however. In the day of regulation, fares were more, but service much better. I do think many changes can be made, but I just don't think that all of these changes can be made, without some cost being passed along, to the customer. There defintely needs to be a reworking of fare rules, and contracts of carriage, so they aren't so anti-customer. I think the airlines should do away with so many fare categories, and sale all seats, with the same fare rules, at the same fares --- even if it means higher prices. I do agree that there needs to be better handling of certain situations, including delays, like weather, even if outside of the airline'c control. There should be a limit on how long a plane can sit, with passengers, before being required to allow passengers to deboard the airplane.
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Old Feb 26, 2009, 8:08 PM
Butch Cassidy Slept Here Butch Cassidy Slept Here is offline
 
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Foreign ownership of existing US-based airlines, or start-ups, should be allowed SUBJECT to approval from Homeland Security/FBI. Just like the request of Dubai Ports Worldwide, to purchase the Port of Seattle and other ports, was turned-down, national security, in addition to criteria applicabile to a domestic purchaser, must be considered before allowing acquisition by a foreign entity. The limit on service at any given airport should be based on the number of other carriers who are, and those seeking entry, at the given airport. No airline should be allowed to put gates in "mothball" status for more than 6 months. Gates which go unused, for an extended period of time, must be released. No airline should be allowed to acquire an ownership stake, or anything similiar, in any gate. The City of Denver appears to allow unrestricted mothballing of gates by United Air.
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Old Feb 26, 2009, 10:58 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Quote:
I do not believe, however, that current U.S. based airlines, should be allowed under foreign ownership. I believe American companies, should remain American owned.
I assume this means that you feel American companies should not be allowed to own foreign companies also. So US airlines should not be allowed to own foreign carriers. This will be a significant blow to many US airlines who have a number of wholly and partially owned companies. It would also be a blow to other US corporations who have extensive overseas interests as we all retreat into protectionist policies. Ironically, the biggest loser of a protectionist world would be the great industrial trading nations, the largest of which is the USA.

Quote:
If a foreign country wants to open/start a new carrier, in the U.S., are begin operating within the U.S., with an already established airline, I have no problem with that. I do think that some provisions have to be made, however, to protect labor, if this is allowed, and truly make it about allowing competition
Virgin were prevented from starting a US based carrier and had to satisfy stringent rules just to allow a US based company to use their brand. Can we clear up this old canard. The labor laws which apply to the US airlines would also apply to foreign owned carriers. Foreign owned companies operating in the US do not have any exemption from US laws. BMW and Mercedes for example build cars in the US and have some of the most modern facilities and best working conditions of any employers. The implication that foreign owned companies operating in the US enjoy any special priviledges is nonsense. To further clarify, lets clear this up. Foreign ownership of an American company does not confer on the employer any rights to bring into the US foreign labour. The immigration laws are the same for all employers. This is a bogus protectionist argument.

Quote:
if airlines did not overbook, we would be paying nearly twice as much, for fares
Air fares would not double if they banned overbooking. This is a nonsense. JetBlue, hardly the most expensive carrier in the US does not overbook. This is an argument put forward to create fear of reform. The solution is to amend the terms and conditions of tickets to manage this situation. Why does the overbooking argument not apply to other finite resources, such as concert tickets, theatre, etc. Some people don't turn up for these, but the venues cannot oversell on that assumption. The airlines appear to keep pleading special status and it is simply not merited.
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Old Feb 27, 2009, 3:26 AM
Butch Cassidy Slept Here Butch Cassidy Slept Here is offline
 
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I will give the benefit of the doubt to the airlines on this one (yes, I know, sounds unbelieveable.) HOWEVER--at the very least DOT regs should mandate a MINIMUM fine for violation of the existing rules on involuntary de-boarding and denied boarding. The existing pattern of a large fine which is bargained-down to almost nothing is absurd. The rules governing compensation to the customer for denied boarding/de-boarding should be re-examined. The levels of cash compensation should be adjusted upward. A customer should have the right to demand CASH (check) compensation with getting an argument, or threats, from the airline rep. Fines should also be imposed when an airline offers only a free flight voucher with the comment "take it or leave it," and refuses to pay cash.

Last edited by Butch Cassidy Slept Here; Feb 27, 2009 at 3:28 AM.
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Old Feb 27, 2009, 4:12 AM
The_Judge The_Judge is offline
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I agree with the first part of your response, BCSH. There should be penalties to the airline for involuntary denied boardings. I.e., if a passenger books his flight, shows up on time and is bumped because no one else volunteered to stay behind on an overbooked flight.

But the comment...."A customer should have the right to demand CASH (check) compensation with getting an argument, or threats, from the airline rep. Fines should also be imposed when an airline offers only a free flight voucher with the comment "take it or leave it,"and refuses to pay cash.", are kinda the same. I think you are saying the passenger deserves cash compensation in lieu of free tickets or vouchers and the airline should be fined if not offering cash.

I disagree whole-heartedly with this. This is a volunteer program and what the airline offers is up to them. If they don't offer enough and somebody is denied to board against their wishes, then yes, fine the crap out of the airline, pay the customer cash compensation in addition to getting them to their final destination. But if an airline only offers vouchers, hotel, meals and/or more or less to get the volunteers they need, who cares?? If a passenger takes the offer, it is on them. It is totally voluntary. They don't have to take it. Why should an airline be fined for this?

As far as the arguments, threats and take it or leave it attitude, I can only speak for myself. At the end of my career, I had an admittedly bad attitude. But my attitude in these cases was completely indifferent. If I got the volunteers, great. If I didn't and I had to pay cash out or whatever was necessary, fine too cuz I just didn't care anymore. I was gonna go home at the end of my shift and see my kids. I know it's not right and that is one reason I left.
__________________
Yes, the rules and policies favor the airlines unfairly. I do not dispute that.

Last edited by The_Judge; Feb 27, 2009 at 4:14 AM.
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Old Feb 27, 2009, 4:52 AM
Butch Cassidy Slept Here Butch Cassidy Slept Here is offline
 
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On this one we may, actually, be in agreement. My comment about a customer receiving a cash payment, and fines for the airline that refuses a customer's request for a cash payment, was meant to refer ONLY to what you described as
somebody is denied to board against their wishes
As to a VOLUNTEER: If a volunteer is willing to take a bag of peanuts (I exaggerate) as "compensation" that's between the customer and the airline.
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Old Feb 27, 2009, 7:49 AM
ChrisH ChrisH is offline
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Originally Posted by jimworcs View Post
I assume this means that you feel American companies should not be allowed to own foreign companies also. So US airlines should not be allowed to own foreign carriers. This will be a significant blow to many US airlines who have a number of wholly and partially owned companies. It would also be a blow to other US corporations who have extensive overseas interests as we all retreat into protectionist policies. Ironically, the biggest loser of a protectionist world would be the great industrial trading nations, the largest of which is the USA.



Virgin were prevented from starting a US based carrier and had to satisfy stringent rules just to allow a US based company to use their brand. Can we clear up this old canard. The labor laws which apply to the US airlines would also apply to foreign owned carriers. Foreign owned companies operating in the US do not have any exemption from US laws. BMW and Mercedes for example build cars in the US and have some of the most modern facilities and best working conditions of any employers. The implication that foreign owned companies operating in the US enjoy any special priviledges is nonsense. To further clarify, lets clear this up. Foreign ownership of an American company does not confer on the employer any rights to bring into the US foreign labour. The immigration laws are the same for all employers. This is a bogus protectionist argument.



Air fares would not double if they banned overbooking. This is a nonsense. JetBlue, hardly the most expensive carrier in the US does not overbook. This is an argument put forward to create fear of reform. The solution is to amend the terms and conditions of tickets to manage this situation. Why does the overbooking argument not apply to other finite resources, such as concert tickets, theatre, etc. Some people don't turn up for these, but the venues cannot oversell on that assumption. The airlines appear to keep pleading special status and it is simply not merited.
I would like for overbooking to stop too. I hate working the ticket counter, or gate, when flights are overbooked. Maybe you are right, and I've just been led to believe that overbooking would cause fare increases. I didn't realize JetBlue didn't overbook. I thought it was common practice for all airlines to overbook. I stand corrected.

I believe I am being misunderstood, when it comes to my concern about labor. I do not believe that foreign airlines will set up shop, within the U.S., and begin paying Chinese wages. I realize that labor laws exist, and apply to all companies, within the U.S., foreign owned, or not. This isn't the concern.

My concern, is that if foreign airlines begin operating, within the United States, the current U.S. Airlines, will begin contracting their flying, to these foreign carriers, eliminating the need for the U.S. Airlines to employ workers. Just because British Airways begins operating flights, within the U.S., doesn't mean they have to set up shop here, and begin hiring U.S. workers, to operate the flights. They can use their pilots, and their crews.

I liken it to the current thing, which is major airlines outsourcing their flying, to regional airlines. It eliminates the need for the major airline to hire crews, and have airplanes flying those routes. They simply pay a set rate, to those regional airlines, per flight they operate, and that regional airline operates their airplane, and their own crews. At least, in this example, the jobs are still their, for the American pilots. I fear the major airlines may try to enter into this type of contracting/partnership, with foreign carriers, where they will operate these flights, with their crews, and airplanes, eliminating the need for the U.S. Airlines to hire crews, at all. The U.S. Airlines will simply sale the seats.

Instead of buying a ticket on American Airlines, that says, "operated by American Eagle", you'll start seeing, "operated by British Airways". I just see it as another potential way for U.S. Airlines to circumvent labor.

Maybe I am wrong though. Maybe it isn't even worth being concerned about. I do reiterate .. IT IS A CONCERN. It has nothing to do with any agenda I have with not wanting foreign airlines in the U.S. I couldn't care less. I just don't want these jobs to go to foreign labor, but want them to stay here, at home.

I feel like when I express any of these type of things, I get jumped on, like I have some agenda, regarding the airlines. I couldn't care less. I just have concerns, like anybody does, that some of these things could come with negatives. I'm not speaking in finites, Im simply expressing concerns, of things that should be discussed, and taken into consideration, before certains things are just, put into place. If my concerns are way off base, and there is some reason anybody sees, to put these to rest, make me aware. BUT, I assure you I have no agenda. AND, if I have been brainwashed, by the airlines, from working for them, for a few years, educate me on the issues.
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Old Feb 27, 2009, 8:06 AM
Butch Cassidy Slept Here Butch Cassidy Slept Here is offline
 
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They (a foreign airline) can use their pilots, and their crews.

I'm not sure that US law permits (or would permit) that. Perhaps Jim can help, but my understanding of UK law is that British nationals would need to work a Manchester - London segment of an international flight by a US carrier if said US carrier was given permission to provide local service on that route. The same situation applies in the USA as I understand it. I believe some foreign carriers maintain bases outside their home country. Isn't hiring, at those foreign bases, restricted to, or preference given to, locals?

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Old Feb 27, 2009, 8:29 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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ChrisH,
I am sorry if my vigorous debating style seems like I am "jumping" on you... in fact I think you are one of the more thoughtful contributors and seem willing to consider the alternatives and even change your position in the light of the debate. I don't think you have an agenda.

The concerns about labour rules and American ownership issues are whipped up by both US companies and unions and the arguments put forward are often bogus. The unions fear loss of control and the companies fear the loss of their monopolies. The reason I challenge these is because these are, ironically, against the US national interest. Both of my children are US citizens. I am not anti US, and I vigorously defend the US when debating issues with Europeans. Anti-US sentiment (particularly during the Bush years) has been high in recent years, and I do my bit to defend the US against some of the more ridiculous accusations from Europeans. However, I do feel your concerns are ungrounded. There are a number of ways in which the US can protect their labour laws and still allow foreign competition.

They could require all foreign owned airlines operating internal flights in the US to have a US base. In reality, only Canada and Mexico could realistically avoid this anyway. If British Airways operated the flight, by the time their crews had crossed the Atlantic, they would be outside the required "rest period" rules. It would be prohibitively expensive to base British crews in the US and far cheaper to hire local labour.

The labour unions wish to imply that US pay and conditions are higher than the rest of the world and if "foreign" carriers were allowed in they would pay less. This is also false. Let's look at the British Airways example provided by Chris. In fact, the opposite is the case. British Airways recently launched a new subsiduary called OpenSkies. This subsiduary operates business class only flights from Paris and Amsterdam to New York. They had the choice of operating the flights with crews based in Paris or New York. Guess where they hired the crews from? NEW YORK. Why did they do that? Because labour laws in the US give far less rights to their employees than European ones do, and the wages were considerably lower. There is a parallel debate to this one in another forum (pprune) in which Europeans are complaining that BA used US crews to circumvent high wages and better working conditions in Europe vs the US!!

We either believe in free enterprise or we don't. The lack of competition in the US airline industry is leading to the airlines to exploit their monopolies. The injection of competition will provide a boost and hopefully drive up standards. The introduction of competition needs to be accompanied by stricter regulations relating to market share, passenger rights, etc and some of the larger carriers need to be either broken up or allowed to go bankrupt (I suggest we start with Delta).

I know that this will cause short term "pain" to some people who are hard working and have families. This applied also to the railroad robber barons, the steel magnates, the telecommunications giants, etc... abusive monopolies have to be broken up for the greater good and in the longer term the market will provide better, cheaper services and ultimately more employment.;
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Old Feb 28, 2009, 3:36 PM
DRHHUB DRHHUB is offline
 
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As an occasional traveler, I probably have different thoughts regarding overbooking, but here they go. I always get to the airport early (usually 2 hours) so I've never been bumped as I'm one of the first ones to check-in. But, why not do away with overbooking completely by making tickets completely non-refundable. By that I mean, if you don't make the flight you're scheduled on, you don't get one cent back for that ticket. You can't use it for future travel. You don't have a credit less change charges. You simply lose your money. That way, the airlines know that if they sell a ticket they have the money. If you don't show up it's the passengers loss. If they did that, would there still be a need for overbooking?

If they continue to overbook after that, the penalty is simple. The airline must refund the total cost of the ticket (not only the unused portion), they must give you the denied boarding compensation (cash on the spot), and they must put you on another carrier at their expense to get you to your destination.

Like I said, I've probably got a different view than the business travelers that have their plans changed at a moments notice many times. But, my idea is simple enough that everyone should be able to understand it. I know there is no way this would ever be done, but it is a simple solution.
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Old Mar 1, 2009, 1:06 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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This is in fact what some loco's do. Ryanair in Europe does this and claims not to ever overbook, although some of their employee's have suggested that they are lying when they make this claim. In fact, on low cost carriers such as Jetblue, the occassional loss of a ticket would more than be made up by the savings on the lower fares. Some of the fares charged for business class and for full price coach are so high as to be utterly unrelated to the costs involved. My main objection is the sheer unfairness of the contract terms, in favour of the airline.

If the passenger is late, there is no leeway given. But the airlines appears able to abrogate their obligation with little consequence. It is utterly unbalanced against the consumer.
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Old Mar 1, 2009, 1:39 AM
Butch Cassidy Slept Here Butch Cassidy Slept Here is offline
 
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My main objection is the sheer unfairness of the contract terms, in favour of the airline.

As I've indicated in previous posts Contracts of Carriage can be intrepeted (by the Courts) more liberally, in favor of the customer, if the customer contests a given provision (usually in Small Claims Court.) The reason, again, is that these contracts are "Contracts of Adhesion." Unlike a conventional contract, the customer has no input into the provisions of a Contract of Adhesion. The problem arises as to the degree of unfairness, or "unconscionability," which a given Court will allow. This can vary from one state to the next. However, all courts do have SOME threshold which, if crossed, renders a given provision "unconscionable," and therefor, illegal.

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