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Airline frequent flyer fee chart

Posted by George Hobica on Saturday, May 4, 2013


Frequent flyer tickets are supposed to be free, right? Well, not exactly. Airlines are socking it to passengers with all kinds of fees and penalties that take some of the joy out of redeeming an award ticket.

For example, American can kill customers with fees. Imagine this scenario: you book a frequent flyer ticket at the last minute using a reservations phone agent ($75+$25), then have to change the date of travel ($150), but ultimately can't make the trip (illness, death in the family, whatever $150): your total fees (assuming you want to redeposit the miles for future use) will be $400 without even leaving the ground!

In this same scenario, Delta won't charge you a last-minute booking fee, but if you want to change or cancel that ticket within 72 hours of travel you forfeit the miles altogether. No chance to use them again.

Note that since the four remaining "legacy" airlines (US, DL, AA, and UA) have recently upped their domestic fare change fee from $150 to $200, we wouldn't be surprised to see frequent flyer change fees to be increased as well. As of this writing, that hasn't happened (it's still $150).

Remember agents all seem to have different interpretations of the rules and fees so it never hurts to hang up and call back to see if another agent has a cheaper fee or allows you to change something for free. But, one thing is for sure, traveling for free these days ain't what it used to be!

One popular workaround is that if there is a schedule change to your flight (with Delta, they seem to jigger their timetable almost every other month), you may be able to change your ticket without a fee. Typically, if the airline changes the times of your flight (even by a few minutes), it can put connections in jeopardy or make it less likely for checked bags to make it to the final destination. So it pays to keep checking your reservation to see if you may be able to get a change for free.

Keep in mind, too, that depending on your frequent flyer membership level, some of these fees may not apply to you, or they may be lower than shown. Updated May 4, 2013.

 

Airline

"Last minute" ticketing

Ticket issued by phone or in person

Date/itinerary change

Redepositing miles/points

Same day change fee (confirmed travel)

Air Tran

 $0

 $15

one free change allowed, additional changes cost $75

$75

$25

Alaska

 $0

 $15 (for Alaska flights); $25 (for partner flights)

$75 if made online; $100 if made via phone agent

$100$75 if made online; $100 if made via phone agent

 $25 (only if same award seat is available within six hours of flight)

American

Travel ticketed 21 20 days or less incurs $75 charge

 $25 by phone/$35 in person

$150 (MileSAAver Award tickets for which the only confirmed change is to the date and/or time will not incur the change fee)

$150 (all additional award tickets returning to same account at same time are $25 each)

$75 (free if award seats are available in the same category)

Delta

$0

$25

$150 (no changes/cancelations are permitted within 72 hours of departure; all miles forfeited)

$150 (no changes/cancelations are permitted within 72 hours of departure)

$50

Frontier

 $0

 $0

$50 (if changes are made within 7 days before departure, otherwise free)

$50

$50

JetBlue

$0

$20

$50-100

$50-100

$50

Spirit

$0

$25+$0 (booked 180 days before departure)-$100 booking fee

$110 (not permitted within 24 hours of departure)

$110 (not permitted within 24 hours of departure)

$25 (only for an earlier flight) 

Southwest

 $0

$0

$0

$0

Depends on type of award and possible point difference if using new award system

United

$75 if booked within 21 days of departure

 $25

$0-$75 (depends on if origin/connecting city/destination changes and if the change is made within 21 days of departure)

$150

$75

US Airways

$75 if ticketed 21 days or less

 $30 for domestic travel/$40 for international travel+

$25-50 award processing fee

$150

$150

$75

Virgin America

$0

$20 (phone)

$75-100

$75-100

$25-50

 

 

Related: Get a 100% bonus when you buy US Air miles (through end of May 2013)

Frequent Flyer Hacks Only the Most Frequent Flyers Know

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Airline Industry News

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Full Fare Advertising

Posted by Peter Thornton on Monday, January 16, 2012

It’s been nearly nine months since the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that airlines and travel agents, including online travel agencies, would be required to advertise and display airfares with all mandatory taxes and fees included. After a few extensions, that rule will finally go into effect. On January 26, 2012 all airfares must be shown with taxes and fees included. That means the price we report for domestic flights will appear to have suddenly gone up by $20 to $40. Here's the background.

On international flights, this is a big win for consumers, because international taxes can sometimes be more than the base fare and this can be quite the sticker shock when the final price is displayed. 

As you can see in the example below, flights from Boston to London are being advertised on American’s main page at $250 each way.  On the next few pages, you see a fare of $41 from BOS to LHR and $458 returning from LHR to BOS for a total round-trip fare of $499.  However, on the final page, your total trip cost after the taxes are added is $697, which is almost $200 higher than what is initially shown.  You'll also see on Orbitz the difference is even greater, with the screen showing an $81 round-trip airfare in bold print with $616 in taxes and fees making up the rest of the actual $697 total price.

 

 

This is why we at Airfarewatchdog have always displayed international fares with taxes included.  For domestic flights, these mandatory taxes and fees usually add up to about $21 round-trip for nonstop flights and typically range within a few dollars of $40 for connecting flights (depending on which airport you are connecting through).  For flights that have a stop, but keep the same flight number and don't change planes, taxes tend to be around $30 round-trip. Since we currently post most of our domestic fares as just the base fare, we want to give you a heads up that although fares will appear to go up $20 to $40 later this month, they will now include taxes and fees.

For example, below are two Airfarewatchdog-verified fares for nonstop flights from Detroit to Chicago-Midway.  These fares are both the same price, with the Southwest fare showing $98 RT pre-tax and the Delta fare showing $119 RT including taxes.  We found the Delta fare on Orbitz, which shows tax-included fares on its flexible search, and the Southwest fare on Southwest.com, which shows only the base fare initially. So, even though it looks like the Southwest flight is cheaper, remember that after taxes they are the exact same price.

 

 

 

Another example on a connecting flight from Minneapolis to Ontario shows the Southwest fare at $268 RT pre-tax and the United fare at $309 including taxes.  Once again, these are basically the same price in the end, with Southwest.com giving us the base fare initially and Orbitz giving us the tax-included fare initially.  Also, please note that the outbound flight on Southwest has no plane change, which results in a lower tax total, and on Orbitz the taxes differ slightly depending on the airline due to different connecting cities.  Starting Jan. 26, 2012, all sites will be including taxes for all fares.



 

So, why haven’t we done this all along?  Based on the way airlines release fares, our methodology includes searching over a 330-day travel period to find the lowest fare we could recommend on a specific route. Our searches typically brought back only base fares. As long as the airlines listed fares the same way, we were able to give an apples-to-apples comparison on the base price. At the same time, we provided as much guidance as possible on what to expect for additional taxes and fees.  In an effort to search as many routes as possible and include all airlines selling a particular fare, we opted for displaying the base fare only for domestic airfares.  It would be significantly more time consuming, and reduce the number of fares we could find and share, to find the taxes for each airfare on each airline since the taxes would differ slightly between airlines depending on connecting airport and how many connections.  Though the displayed fares may appear to be higher, the upside to the new rule is you will know right away exactly what you’ll be paying for your flight. 

As for baggage fees, that’s a different story.  Since checking baggage is not technically required for air transportation, the rule doesn’t require baggage fees to be included in the advertised airfare.  However, there will also be a new requirement for airlines and travel agencies to display the specific baggage fees for all potential classifications in the confirmation email after booking.  This means that they can’t just give a range of fees, but must include the specific fee for the customer purchasing the ticket or a list of every possible baggage fee that could pertain to the customer (online purchase, at airport, elite status, etc.).  This info can be displayed with a hyperlink directly to a specific location on the airline website listing all baggage fees.  Most airlines have already provided such pages listing optional fees and we’ve compiled all the links for you here.  Of course, finding out the baggage fees after your purchase may make you decide you don’t want to purchase that ticket anymore.  Along with these new regulations, there will be a 24-hour grace period for all airline ticket purchases so you can cancel your reservation and get your money back within 24-hours of purchasing.

We will continue to pass along the best fares we find and link you to where we find that price.  With the new rule beginning January 26, all sites should be initially advertising all their fares including taxes and that will be the price that we pass along to you.

Categories: Airline Industry News, Airfare Tips

'Tis the season to get bonus frequent flyer miles for online shopping

Posted by George Hobica on Wednesday, October 26, 2011

By George Hobica

Airfarewatchdog.com

With holiday shopping around the corner, it’s time to address one of the recurring tragedies of the season. (No, not your Aunt Sadie’s annual fruit cake). Today I’d like to address the calamity of those millions of bonus frequent flyer miles that people forgo each year because they forget to buy from their favorite online merchants via links at the airlines’ shopping mall web sites.

Note that I said bonus frequent flyer miles. No, I am not talking about the paltry one mile per dollar that many people earn by using their airline-affiliated credit cards. (I only emphasize this because when I talk about this to friends and sometimes total strangers, most of whom have no idea this is even possible, their eyes glaze over and they stop listening because their interior monologue is saying "Yeah, yeah, I already get miles with my credit card.")

No. We're talking four miles per dollar here. We're talking ten miles per dollar. Even more with some merchants.

I’m one of those sad cases. Before I got wise, I would simply go to Apple.com to buy a new $3000 iMac or a $1000 piece of furniture from Crate and Barrel's website. Not a smart move. Now I get bonus miles for virtually everything I buy.

And through 11/11/11, United/Continental is offering 1500 extra bonus miles for any purchase of $125 and 500 more if you also download the use the site's Shopping Assistant tool (Windows only at this writing, Mac OS coming "soon"). And some merchants even let you earn miles by shopping in store or by phone rather than online. You just have to register your credit cards with the store via United's site.

Is there a catch? No. The price you pay for a new iMac via Apple’s web site is exactly the same as the price via the airlines’ sites.

Literally hundreds of online merchants participate in these mileage offers.  Here are some current deals from various merchants and airlines, all of which are subject to change:

Delta Airlines

  • 2 miles/$1 at Crate and Barrel
  • 2 miles/$1 at iTunes.com
  • 4 miles/$1 at Drugstore.com 
  • 2 miles/$1 at Overstock.com
  • 3000 miles at ADT Home Security
  • 300 miles at T-Mobile

United (Continental) Airlines

  • 12 miles/$1 at 1-800-BASKETS.com
  • 3 miles/$1 at Nordstrom
  • 3 miles/$1 at Sephora
  • 1 mile/$1 at Apple
  • 2 miles/$1 at Avon
  • 3000 miles at ADT Home Security (conditions apply)
  • 3 miles/$1 at Bluefly.com

American Airlines

  • 4 miles/$1 at Old Navy
  • 2 miles/$1 at Walmart
  • 5 miles/$1 at Nordstrom
  • 11 miles/$1 at Teleflora
  • 4 miles/$1 at Drugstore.com
  • 6 miles/$1 at The Body Shop

US Airways

  • 4 miles/$1 at Drugstore.com
  • 4 miles/$1 at Jos. A. Bank
  • 2 miles/$1 at Old Navy

JetBlue

  • 2 points/$1 at Nordstrom
  • 1 point/$3 at Apple
  • 1 point/$1 at Godiva
  • 200 points/new or renewed pre-paid service at Verizon Wireless

 

Everyday purchases, not just holiday gifts, qualify for miles, too. Do you regularly buy your contacts from 1800Contacts.com? Why not get extra miles for every dollar spent? Are you a frequent buyer at Drugstore.com? Petmeds? If you buy via their site directly, you get no miles; get there via an airline shopping mall page and you might get as many as 10 miles per $1 spent when there's an extra bonus offer.  And keep in mind that airline mall shopping is a painless way to keep your frequent flyer miles from going stale, since each purchase, even a 99-cent song at iTunes.com, extends your miles’ expiration date.

It's important to shop around, however, because one airline might offer more miles with the same merchant than another airline. For example, United might be offering 3 miles for every 2 dollars charged at XYZ.com whereas Delta might be offering 4 miles for every dollar. And offers can change from time to time, so if your purchase can wait, jump when your favorite airline is offering a double miles deal or better.

And if you’ve been visiting an online merchant’s site directly through their URL recently, it’s a good idea to clear your cookies and then enter the site through the airlines’ links to avoid any potential confusion as to where you came from.

For your shopping convenience, you can find links to the airlines’ mall sites all in one place here.  

Bookmark these sites and before you buy anything online, see if miles are being offered for your purchase.

Have a great time shopping this holiday season, and please be sure to gift yourself a gift, too, in the form of extra frequent flyer miles.

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Airline Industry News

Watch out for larcency in the air

Posted by George Hobica on Tuesday, August 16, 2011

By George Hobica

Airfarewatchdog.com

With fares and fees skyrocketing lately, you’re excused for feeling that someone's picking your pocket every time you fly. But every year thousands of airline passengers have items stolen from security check points, overhead bins, and bags both checked and unchecked. Some even have entire bags swiped. And some do indeed get their pockets picked, if not by the airline, then by the guy sitting next to them.

Just ask William Zoffinger. Two hours into his flight to Honolulu, the Miami-based financial planner took his wallet out to buy some peanuts (remember when they were free?), slipped it into his new wife's oversized purse under the seat in front of her, and fell asleep.

It wasn't until the cab ride after the plane landed that they realized the wallet was gone — along with his credit cards, driver's license, and more than $600 in cash.

"That really helped make it the honeymoon from hell," the 25-year-old said ruefully.

They're all at it

It even happens to Airfarewatchdog.com contributors. Rushing to make a plane at Miami, I sent my PDA-phone through the x-ray machine but in my haste, ran for the gate without retrieving it. I immediately returned to the checkpoint, but my beloved Nokia was gone without a trace.

Flying these days isn't just hectic and discombobulating, but also is rife with felonious fellow passengers, bandito baggage handlers and shady security screeners.

The TSA certainly isn't immune, either. Although all TSA agents are supposedly background-checked, more than 400 have been fired over the past five years for stealing, including two who helped themselves to thousands in cash from checked bags (what that much in cash was doing in checked luggage is another story).  For the record, the TSA says the worst airports for theft are Newark, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and Seattle-Tacoma.

Steps to help prevent your items being stolen

Jewelry is the single biggest category of stolen valuables, followed by cameras and electronics. Still, carelessness and blind faith make the situation needlessly worse. So keep the following in mind:

1. Don't stash anything in your checked bags that you'd be devastated to lose, and buy one small but solid lock per bag (the TSA suggests Travel Sentry or Safe Skies brands, both of which screeners can open and relock should they decide to go into your bag). Locks occasionally do get cut off by screeners if a bag seems suspicious, but they seem to discourage casual pilfering. Airlines will not cover you for anything lost or damaged in your checked luggage that might be considered "valuable"--that includes cash, electronics, jewelry, and even important business papers or antiques.

2. In security lines, consolidate loose items (such as phones or iPods) into one bag before putting it through the machine, and keep an eagle eye when it emerges out the other end — even if you're detained for wanding or frisking. If the security screeners bring you out of sight of your stuff, politely but firmly ask to have it brought to you immediately. Don’t pass through the metal detector until your items are well inside the x-ray machine. And don't put your valuables on the conveyor belt unless you're the next person to go through the body scanner.

3. In-flight, put the carry-on with all your "must-not-lose" belongings under the seat in front of you and lock it, because the passenger seated ahead of you can reach under his seat and delve into your bag. But keep wallets on your person, especially if it's a long-haul flight. That goes for double if it's overnight and you plan to sleep. Consider locks for any bags in overhead bins, as well; it's not unheard of for a thief to run his or her mitts through bags while their owners are snoozing. It's also not a bad idea to put your bag(s) in the bin across from you, the better to keep an eye on things. If you're sitting in business or first class and the flight attendant offers to hang your coat or jacket, make sure that there's nothing valuable in the pockets. Even flight attendants have been known to steal valuables from coats and jackets.

4. Don't pack valuables near the tops of your carry-on bags; that makes it easier for someone casually to scoop them out, with minimal effort.

5. If you're traveling within the U.S. and you absolutely must have use of valuable items when you arrive at your destination, and they will not fit in your carry on bags, then ship them 5 days ahead using FedEx ground (which is much more economical than next day service). You can insure these items with FedEx, but you cannot insure them if they're in checked bags. Read more about this.

Getting your items, or money, back

If something disappears at an airport, first try the Lost and Found office. If your stuff is well and truly gone, in certain cases you've got a prayer of recovery thanks to modern technology. For laptops (very popular items to nick), products like LoJack for Laptops from Computrace send out a signal when a stolen computer logs onto the Internet — and call the cops.

Laptop Cop from Awareness Technology does the same and even lets you log on remotely to copy and delete sensitive files. Zoombak's Advanced GPS Universal Locator lets you track a waylaid bag via Internet or phone. If all else fails, try checking for a particularly distinctive stolen item on eBay, or your local Craigslist site.

Depending on where you think your stuff was taken, you can try filing a claim with the airline. Good luck with that — most airlines will reimburse you if they lose your checked luggage (up to $3200), but most valuables such as cash, business materials, electronics, and jewelry are excluded, as is all cabin luggage. Also, you’ll need to show receipts and take a deduction for depreciation, so you won’t get full replacement value.

The TSA isn't much better: If you file a claim (here, on the TSA's Web site), expect a long, drawn-out process that is likely to end in minimal compensation or a denial.

So what about insurance? Your home owner's or renter's policy might cover you. If not, consider travel insurance (often a good idea anyway), available from more than a dozen companies; you can compare and get quotes at the excellent site InsureMyTrip.com.

Some credit cards also provide protection. In order to help establish the loss, be sure to file all the claims you can, along with a police report. But do yourself a favor: As with many of life's problems, when it comes to security, prevention is always best.

Add your advice

Have you been the victim of airport or airline theft? Any tips on preventing larcency in the air? Please share your advice.

You might also like The Baggage "Insurance" You've Probably Never Heard Of

Shipping Luggage Ahead Can Save Money, Time, and Frustration

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Airline Industry News

Tips for getting a more comfy seat next time you fly

Posted by George Hobica on Thursday, September 9, 2010

>By George Hobica

 

Airfarewatchdog.com

Have you noticed that padding on airline seats is getting thinner? Back in the days of the Lockheed Constellation and the DC-6, seats used to be less punishing -- they were more like La-Z-Boys. But don't expect to find cushy swivel chairs on your next economy-class flight. Today, in order to save fuel and squeeze in more passengers, the padding has been minimized -- and, as we all know, the rows of seats have been placed closer together. And seats may get even thinner.

Now, more than ever, upgrading can be a trip-saver. Here are eight ways to help make your next flight more comfortable:

1. Buy a seat with extra legroom. JetBlue, Delta, United and other airlines will sell you a few extra inches of legroom at the front of the economy cabin or at exit rows for a reasonable upgrade fee. We think this is money well spent. JetBlue charges as little as $10 extra for seats with 38 inches between rows, and has more leg room (34 inches between rows, rather than the 31-32 inches typical on some airlines) even if you don't pay more.

2. Buy a cheap business class seat on a discounter. Airtran and Spirit sell roomier business class seats for far less than most other airlines. Airtran will let you upgrade to business from any fare at the airport on a first-come, first served basis for $49-$99 per flight segment (that's one take off and one landing), or from higher economy fares in advance; Spirit calls their business class "the Big Front Seat" and fares are often less than other airlines' economy fares, especially if you're a member of their $9 Fare Club.   

Virgin America offers last minute upgrades (4 hours before flight time) to its luxe first class cabin for between $70 and $270 each way depending on the length of the flight, and US Airways has a similar program called "GoUpgrades" allowing passengers to upgrade from economy class to first for $50 to $500 each way, depending on flight length, 24 hours or fewer before flight time. You can upgrade by phone or at the airport, and international flights are included. See this chart for more details about these and other programs. And United has long had its Economy Plus option, offering "up to 5 extra inches of legroom" in coach, starting at $9 per flight for shorter hops and going up to, say, $109 each way on a LA to Tokyo flight. There's also a $425 per year "annual option" giving you unlimited upgrades to the roomier seats, subject to availability of course. Other airlines may offer spontaneous upgrades at the airport, so be sure to ask about them at check in. You never know what you might snag.

3. Look for Y-UP and Q-UP fares. These economy class fares, for domestic travel only, can be upgraded for free to business or first class, but they're not dirt cheap, aren't fully refundable and come with other restrictions. Buy them online (e.g., search for "all types" of business class fares on Travelocity), by phone from your airline, or through travel agents.

4. Choose planes with more legroom. Not all aircraft are created equal. Check out the "seat pitch" data at Seatguru.com and book on an aircraft on which seat rows are spaced further apart. Doing so can earn you as much as two inches of extra legroom.

5. Buy international business and first class from consolidators. Ticket sellers such as 1stair.net and planetamex.com sell premium cabin fares at considerable discounts.

6. Use miles to upgrade. This is one of the highest-value ways you can spend your miles. Upgrading a $400 fare on United from New York to LA to a $2000 business class fare for 30,000 miles is a better deal than spending those miles on a $400 fare. Unfortunately, many airlines now charge miles plus cash to upgrade ( see chart.)

7. Be loyal. Upper-tier frequent flyer program members get free upgrades, priority access to exit row seating at no charge, and other perks on many airlines, so stick with one airline, fly frequently, and attain "premier" status.

 

 

 

 

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Airline Industry News

Express Seats from American Airlines

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not a fan of mob scenes at the gate? Then you're probably not all that fond of the long wait to deplane either. Sure, a seat in Business Class would remedy both, but...meh...too much money. American Airlines now offers a compromise by way of their new Express Seats option, allowing passengers to purchase seats in the first few rows of Coach, including bulkhead. Passengers booked in Express Seats are also boarded in Group 1 of general boarding, meaning less time spent waiting in a crowded gate, less time spent waiting to deplane.

Express Seats are available exclusively for sale at the self-service kiosks upon check-in at the airport, anytime from 24 hours to 50 minutes prior to departure, only for domestic travel.

Pricing will vary by destination and length of flight, though AA.com lists the following "introductory" examples:

$19 for St. Louis to Chicago O'Hare
$29 for San Francisco to Dallas/Fort Worth
$29 for Boston to Chicago O'Hare
$39 for New York JFK to Los Angeles
$39 for Chicago O'Hare to Honolulu

Not entirely unreasonable we suppose. What do you think? Would you fork up $78 for a round-trip flight for the privilege of sitting in "upper" Coach?

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Airline Industry News

New Carry-On Fees for Spirit Airlines

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, August 2, 2010

If you're the sort of flyer who avoids checked baggage fees by stuffing a carry-on to capacity, you may want to rethink your packing strategy. At least if you're flying Spirit Airlines that is. As of yesterday, the budget carrier began charging a fee for carry-on baggage. Passengers are allowed one free personal item/bag which must fit underneath a seat (16 x 14 x 12"). Items such as umbrellas, cameras , infant diaper bags, assistive devices, outer garments, car seat/strollers, reading material, and snacks do not count towards the carry-on baggage allowance. Any carry-on baggage beyond this must be stored in the overhead bin (22 x 18 x 10"), 1 item per purchased seat, with fees ranging from:

$20 for $9 Fare Club members (online check-in)
$30 for online or phone check-in for non-members
$45 for check-in at gate

Now it's entirely possible to shell out more for the transport of your carry-on than for the actual seat. But before you go clutching your pearls in outrage, try and see the silver lining here. With fewer folks dilly dallying in the aisles as they struggle with bags in the overhead, boarding and take off should be a tad quicker. Or that's the idea, anyhow.

Will other carriers soon follow? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, you can review Spirit's new baggage policy here.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Categories: Airline Industry News

8 Airline Regulations We Need Now

Posted by George Hobica on Thursday, July 15, 2010

Since this was blog post was published last year, No. 7 on our "wish list" has been put into effect. Now what about the other seven items? Feel free to add your favorite new regulation in the comments.
 

1. If an airline changes its schedule before you depart on a trip, and such schedule change no longer suits your schedule, the airline must secure you transportation on another airline at your original fare.

2. If an airline changes its schedule and you are forced to spend money on hotels and meals, such as a forced overnight midway in your trip, the airline must pick up the bill.

3. If an airline cancels a flight and you're traveling on a frequent flyer ticket, any fees associated with that fare must be refunded.

4. If you are due a refund or any kind from an airline, said refund must be paid in full in 30 days.

5. If your flight is delayed or canceled due to anything within the airline's reasonable control, the airline must provide adequate lodging, meals, and transportation. It must also put you on another airline's flight if that flight will get you to your destination sooner than your original airline's next flight out.

6. If an airline loses or delays your checked luggage, all checked bag fees must be refunded in full within 30 days, in cash.

7. If you are stuck on the runway for more than three hours, your flight must return to the gate and all passengers be allowed to disembark.

8. If a passenger buys a non-refundable ticket, and said passenger dies or becomes too ill to ever travel again, passenger's fare must be refunded in full within 30 days, and all traveling companions must also have their fares refunded.

What else should we add to the list? Now be reasonable! And add your comments below.

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

Categories: Airline Industry News

Rule 240 Revisited

By George Hobica

Airfarewatchdog.com

Much has been written about something called Rule 240. Some pundits claim it’s an “urban travel legend” and no longer exists. Others disagree.

What is Rule 240? Well, back in the days when airlines were regulated by a government agency, they all had to abide by some sensible rules to protect passengers in case of, among other things, a cancellation or misconnection that was within the airline’s control. These rules were incorporated in the airlines’ contracts of carriage. Post-deregulation, these rules no longer had to be followed, but some airlines, whether formed after or before deregulation, perhaps because they were too lazy to completely rewrite their contracts, kept the same rules. Airlines formed after deregulation typically didn’t incorporate these rules into their contracts, and some have done away with them.

Anyway, Rule 240 originally stated that in the event of a cancellation or flight misconnection, the airline would have to put you on their next flight out, or, if that wasn’t “acceptable,” on the next flight out of a competing airline if that flight would get you to your destination sooner, all at no additional cost to you. If only first class was available on the other airline, then they had to upgrade you. This only applied in circumstances under the airlines’ control, such as crew failing to show up, or mechanical problems.

So does Rule 240, or something like it, still exist? Well, we searched the contracts of carriage for a bunch of big and smaller airlines to find out, and near as we can see, several airlines, such as Alaska and United, still have something they call Rule 240, and others, such as Delta, Southwest, and Virgin America, have more vague language saying that they will put you on another airline at their “sole discretion” or that they “may substitute alternate carriers.” And some airlines don’t call it Rule 240 at all, instead using a numbering system of their own invention (Alaska calls it "Rule 240AS" for example, and Continental calls it "Rule 24").

Keep in mind that airlines can change their contracts at any time, and several of the larger ones have done so in recent months. And sometimes there isn’t a flight on another airline that will get you there sooner, especially if you’re traveling from or through a so-called “fortress hub,” such as Atlanta, a Delta Airlines stronghold, or there may be no seats available on the other airline’s next flight. Also, if you're traveling on a "bulk," "consolidator," or other unpublished airfare, then all bets are off.

To address the skeptics, in the chart below we’ve done our best to interpret the airlines’ policies, and have excerpted the actual language from their current (as of May 2010) contracts of carriage, which, although we're travel journalists not lawyers, we assume are legally binding documents. Below the chart, we’ve also provided links to the contracts on the airlines’ Web sites so you can see for yourself.

We've noted whether, near as we can tell, the airline will put you in first class on its own (or another carrier's) next flight out.

Rule 240 (or something like it) by airline

 

Airline

Coach?

First Class?

And we quote….

Air Tran

No

No

Not applicable

Alaska

Yes

Yes (amazingly, yes)

“If acceptable to the passenger, [Carrier will] provide transportation on another airline's direct flight, or combination of connecting carriers … in the same or higher class [emphasis ours] of service on the passenger's ticket at no additional charge.”

American

No

No

“When cancellations and major delays are experienced, you will be rerouted on our next flight with available seats. If the delay or cancellation was caused by events within our control and we do not get you to your final destination on the expected arrival day, we will provide reasonable overnight accommodations, subject to availability.”

Continental

Under some circum-stances

Yes on CO only

“CO will transport the Passenger on its own flights, subject to availability, to the Destination in the same class of service, at no additional cost to the Passenger, provided that a Passenger who paid a Coach fare will only be transported on a flight in First Class or Business First Class Service subject to seat availability and if such flight will provide an earlier arrival than CO’s next flight on which coach space is available; Reroute Passengers over the lines of one or more carriers when a Change in Schedule results in the cancellation of all CO service between two cities.”

 

 

Delta

Maybe

Maybe

“At our sole discretion, we may arrange for your travel on another carrier or via ground transportation.”

Frontier

Yes (if arrival delayed 4 hours or more)

Only on Frontier

“If the delay or misconnection is caused by Frontier, Frontier will transport the passenger without stopover on its next available flight in the same or higher booking class, at no additional cost to the passenger. If Frontier is unable to provide onward transportation that arrives within four hours of the passenger’s original itinerary, or at the passenger’s request, Frontier will arrange for the passenger’s transportation on another carrier or combination of carriers with whom Frontier has agreements for such transportation.”

Hawaiian

Yes

Yes

“If the carrier causing such delay, or in the case of misconnection the original receiving carrier(s) is unable to provide onward transportation acceptable to the passenger, any other carrier or combination of connecting carriers, at the request of the passenger will transport the passenger … in the same class of service as the passenger's original outbound flight; or if space is available on a flight(s) of a different class of service acceptable to the passenger, such flight(s) will be used … only if it (they) will provide an earlier arrival at the passenger's destination.”

JetBlue

No

No

“Whenever Carrier cancels or otherwise fails to operate any scheduled flight, Carrier will, at the request of the Passenger either transport the Passenger on another of Carrier’s flights on which space is available at no additional charge or provide a full refund.”

Southwest

Maybe

Probably not

“At times, without prior notice to passengers, Carrier may need to substitute other…airlines…”

Spirit No No "Spirit will not reimburse customers for flights that they take on other carriers."

United

Yes

No

“If UA is unable to provide onward transportation acceptable to the passenger UA…will arrange for transportation on another carrier…with whom UA has agreements for such transportation…in the same class of service as the passenger’s outbound flight at no additional cost to the passenger.”

 

US Airways

Maybe

Maybe

“When a ticketed customer holding confirmed reservations on a flight will be delayed because of a schedule irregularity (whether a missed connection, flight cancellation, omission of a scheduled stop, substitution of equipment or a different class of service or schedule change), US Airways will rebook the customer on its next available flight to the customer’s ticketed destination without additional charge. If US Airways is unable to provide onward transportation, US Airways may attempt [emphasis ours] to rebook the customer on the next available flight of another airline with which US Airways has an agreement allowing the acceptance of each other’s tickets.”

Virgin America

Maybe

Maybe

“Virgin America may, without notice, substitute alternate carriers…”

 

 

Links to contracts of carriage

AirTran
Alaska
American
Continental
Delta
Frontier
Hawaiian
Jetblue
Southwest
United
US Airways
Virgin America

 

And if you're traveling within or from any member country of the European Union, you're protected by an additional set of rights that are even stronger than those in the airlines' domestic contracts of carriage or those issued by the US government:

See: Passenger Rights in the European Union.

Read our other useful charts

In case you missed them, these consumer-oriented charts have a lot of useful information:


The flexible search chart

The ship your luggage by UPS or FedEx ground chart
(very useful comments from readers)

The don't buy insurance from your airline chart

The cash back credit card chart

The frequent flyer fee chart

The constantly updated airline baggage fee chart

and The "other" airline fee chart

Categories: Airline Industry News

If United and Continental merge, what then?

The NY Times and Wall St. Journal and other media outlets are reporting that Continental and United have become more serious about a merger, now that the US Airways/United talks have ended. So would yet another mega merger result in higher airfares?

The stock market seems to think so. Had you you invested your nest egg in Delta Airlines' stock at its 52 week low, right now you'd be three times richer.

And if CO/UA merge, doesn't that mean that American, which would suddenly become just the third largest US carrier, would want to find a partner as well, perhaps in US Airways or, who knows, JetBlue?

So imagine a world with United, Delta, American and Southwest as the main domestic airlines. We'd still have AirTran, which could move into markets that the majors might have to abandon owing to overlapping routes, plus JetBlue, Frontier/Midwest, and Alaska. (Oh, and tiny Virgin America.) That's still a lot of airlines, and airlines have been notorious for being incredibly competitive price-wise, often to their own detriment. Plus, it's really not all that hard to start a new airline, especially now that credit is beginning to thaw. There are plenty of planes in the Mohave waiting for a new home. So we could see another David Neeleman jump into the fray and create a new airline to give the majors some competition.

Categories: Airline Industry News
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