All Articles Tagged "airlines"
This past weekend, Kelly Price posted on Facebook and tweeted about the poor customer service she and her husband experienced with United Airlines. Now, the singer/actress has started a petition on Change.org blasting what she called the “classist, racist practices hidden in corporate code”.
It started on Saturday night when Kelly Price says that a United Airlines agent in Houston named Stephanie asked her to go to the back of the coach passengers line. Kelly says she was in the line with the Premier and First class ticket holders and that Stephanie didn’t check her ticket first before sending her to the back of the “other line”. The singer alleges that Stephanie then helped the “nonblack man in a suit” instead of her. Kelly tweeted that the co-workers stood by while the agent yelled at her and when Stephanie realized her mistake (and that Kelly was indeed a Premier and First Class ticket holder), she didn’t apologize.
The Queens native kept it classy and filed a formal complaint with United Airlines, but she didn’t stop there.
She has started a Change.org petition titled “Demand United Airlines Treat ALL Passengers Fairly”. According to the website, she is petitioning: The President of the United States, The U.S. Senate, The U.S. House of Representatives, The Governor of CA, The CA State Senate, The CA State House and Jeff Smisek President United Airlines (United Airlines).
Her petition reads:
Profiling passengers is a common thing with air travel. The world has changed and traveling has not been the same since 9-11. The discomfort and sometimes annoying process of getting from here to there is a cross we all bear in this country to insure the safety of all Americans when we travel by airplane. Unfortunately, some use this as a bullying tool.
On Saturday June 23, 2012 I was bullied by Stephanie a United Airlines employee when she assumed I was not a first class passenger and refused me service at the Customer Service/Rebooking counter in Houston. Even once she realized she was wrong she still ignored me and refused to help me. Her co-workers also ignored me. When I asked to see her name on her badge she hid it and began to scream out loud that I was harrassing her in an attempt to have security come an remove me. I am not a terrorist. I am not a criminal. Had Stephanie (The United Airlines Employee) been successful in her attempt to have me removed I would have likely been arrested and certainly not allowed to travel that day.
As American citizens we are entitled to each have the same civil liberties and basic rights. I want United Airlines to have mandatory Cultural Diversity and Tolerance training for ALL employees of their company. I want United Airlines to implement better checks and balances that insure their employees CANNOT misuse their “authority” with customers and passengers. I want a United policy that demands the immediate termination of a United Airlines employee who discriminates or violates the civil and/or consumer rights of a customer/passenger in either of these manners. Classist, Racist practices hidden in corporate code cannot be tolerated. If we don’t speak out this will never change.
After talking about her ordeal, Kelly tweeted: I wish I knew 600,000 miles ago what I know now about @United. 600k that would be the # of miles I’ve flown on YOUR airline in the last 5yrs.
600-thousand miles is a lot and I’d be interested to know if she’s had a negative experience in the past. United Airlines is the world’s largest airline but last year, in a story titled America’s Meanest Airlines: 2011, US News and World Report ranked United as the “Worst Major Carrier”. The LA Times reports that the latest statistics from U.S. Transportation Department show United is the most complained-about airline in America by far.
Kelly says her complaint isn’t about money or fame, but about her civil rights being violated and that no one (celebrity or non) should have to put up with that. More than 500 people have signed her petition so far. Given the track record of Change.org and the major movements it has sparked around the country, it’s likely this petition will reach the necessary eyes and ears in the corporate office, possibly sparking a change in the company…or at least getting Kelly Price a sincere apology.
What do you think about Kelly Price’s petition?
Alissa Henry is a freelance writer living in Columbus, OH. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaInPink
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It’s sort of outrageous to think anyone would advocate for airlines adding on more fees than they already have, but a professor at Princeton University think airlines should be passing along the burden of high fuel expenses to the passengers they feel are to blame in the first place: overweight fliers.
In a controversial Project Syndicate essay, bioethics professor Peter Singer proposed an idea to allow airlines to base their ticket prices on each passenger’s weight. He suggests airlines do this either one of two ways. The first suggestion is to base the ticket price on a standard passenger weight so that any flier over that amount would have to pay a surcharge for the cost of additional fuel. Any passenger weighing less than the standard would also receive a discount in the same amount.
The other price model involves combining the weight of the ticketed passenger with his or her bags. The passenger would be asked to get on a scale with his or her luggage and then adjust the price accordingly—hot mess waiting to happen.
In a lot of ways the overall idea screams fat shaming, but in professor Singer’s eyes, with all of the other accommodations that have had to be made for obese individuals such as stronger hospital beds and operating tables, bigger refrigerators in morgues, etcetera, the costs of those accommodations justifies public policies such as this that discourage weight gain. According to him, the issue isn’t just a financial one, it’s an environmental one when you consider greenhouse gas emissions.
“Many of us are rightly concerned about whether our planet can support a human population that has surpassed seven billion. But we should think of the size of the human population not just in terms of numbers, but also in terms of its mass. If we value both sustainable human well-being and our planet’s natural environment, my weight – and yours – is everyone’s business.”
What do you think about this idea? Should overweight passengers be charged more to cover fuel costs?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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(Crain’s) — Much of the city’s transportation network sprang back to life Monday after its preventative pre-Irene shutdown. Planes flew, ferries made waves, buses and subways rolled, but alas, many suburban trains remained in their yards. While most people had no trouble getting in on Monday morning, hundreds of thousands of riders in New Jersey, Westchester, Connecticut and parts of Long Island remained at home Monday as transit workers struggled to return power to the commuter rail network. Likewise, nearly a million New Yorkers statewide were without power as officials worked overtime to remove thousands of felled trees and pump-out a waterlogged region.
(Crain’s) — Airline travel to and from New York is expected to slow in the second half of this year, according to a report on airlines and airports in the New York metro area in this week’s issue of Crain’s. The pull back could reverse a tentative recovery in travel. Rising fuel prices and uncertainty about the economy are the major culprits. The number of passengers at New York’s major airports—John F. Kennedy International, La Guardia and Newark Liberty International—is estimated to grow just 1.8% to 105.8 million this year, compared with a growth rate of 2.1% in 2010, according to data from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. An analyst for the Port Authority said 3% is a normal growth rate for a typical recovery, which is not taking hold this year.
(New York Times) — Travelers who signed up for a British Airways Visa card issued by JP Morgan Chase got a sweet deal in a recent promotion: 100,000 frequent flier miles after spending $2,000 with the card — theoretically, enough for two free round-trip tickets between New York and London. But those “free” tickets actually cost about $530 each, in addition to the 50,000 miles per ticket, because the airline passed along taxes, fees and a $350 fuel surcharge. Although many carriers charge passengers flying with award tickets some government taxes and fees, foreign airlines are increasingly adding fuel surcharges to the bill, a practice that has not caught on yet in the United States. “I suppose one way of looking at it is that’s good news for Americans,” said Tim Winship, publisher of FrequentFlier.com. “Our hometown carriers thus far have been leery of going down that road, but that could certainly change.” Delta Airlines did experiment with a fuel surcharge on award tickets in 2007, but dropped the fee in 2008 when competitors did not follow suit and oil prices declined.
(New York Times) — FOR the last two weeks, I’ve been complaining about the fees and surcharges that some hotels add to the bill for things like maid service, bellhop availability and landscaping. But travelers have also been telling me to look harder at the fees the airlines are busily conjuring up. John Carrick, for example, said he was recently surprised to discover that transferring some of his wife’s American Airlines frequent flier miles to a daughter resulted in charges of $250 for the transfer of the mileage points, $30 for a “processing fee” and $18.75 in taxes. “I found the processing fee, which I had never heard of before, outrageous,” Mr. Carrick said. For some time now, the airlines have been adding fees for all sorts of things that used to be part of the ticket price. So figuring out the true costs of air travel has been baffling for business travelers as well as the corporate managers who pay the bills. American Express estimates that business travel accounted for $242 billion in domestic spending last year.
(Smart Money) — The Department of Transportation’s much-anticipated new rules to protect airline passengers tackle major issues like lost-baggage fees and price transparency, but some consumer advocates and critics say they don’t go far enough. The rules come after years of passenger complaints about hidden fees, lost luggage, inadequate compensation for being bumped from overbooked flights and planes left sitting for hours on the tarmac due to busy airport schedules. In their defense, the airlines have been battling to regain profitability after an historically difficult decade. Here are some major omissions:
A three- or four-hour tarmac wait is still too long. The new rules establish a four-hour limit on tarmac delays for international flights of U.S. and foreign airlines; it’s currently three hours for domestic U.S. flights. Kate Hanni, co-founder of the non-profit organization FlyersRights.org, welcomes the inclusion of international flights, but adds, “I’d rather have three hours,” she says. “It’s not short enough. Our mission in future will be to get those timeframe shortened as airline capacity increases.” Notably, Hanni started her campaign for passenger rights after she and her family were stuck on a runway for nine hours in Austin, Texas without food, water or information. “The men at the back of the plane wanted to storm the cockpit,” she recalls.
I am not a jet setter, but I fly frequently. Sometimes, I fly abroad, but usually, I just hop around the U.S. In the course of this hopping, I have observed conditions that do not reflect positively on the airline industry when it comes to its relationship with African-Americans. In other words, what United called “The Friendly Skies,” don’t appear too welcoming from a black perspective.
Here are the reasons why:
- Ignoring the make-up of company management. When is the last time that you observed a Black pilot or co-pilot? Data from the 2011 Current Population Survey (CPS) by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that blacks comprise less than 1% of aircraft pilots and engineers. As you know, blacks make up over 13% of the U.S. population. The lack of African-American pilots and engineers becomes more astonishing when you consider that blacks comprise 11.1% of transportation attendants according to the CPS.
- The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is everywhere, but seldom do you see a black TSA official — especially when you move beyond airports in major cities. (I have a six-month request in to TSA for the percentage of black employees. No response yet.)
One could contend that I am just squawking. However, there is good reason to be concerned about discrimination in the airlines industries. Here are the facts:
- The average (median) weekly wage for the airline industry for 2010 from the CPS was $889. The national average wage was $747.
- The airline industry continues to consolidate: United Airlines and Continental Airlines have merged, as have Northwest and Delta. The more consolidated an industry, the greater control firms have over profit or price. It stands to reason that workers in that industry should be the beneficiaries of their firms’ greater market power in the form of higher wages.
- If blacks are excluded from the industry, then we lose the opportunity to reduce our income gap with whites by garnering some of those relatively higher wages.
The way the world works today, and with the price of gasoline ever rising, it is quite often cheaper to fly than to drive. That is, blacks, and everyone else, will find themselves flying more and more in the future. It’s just the easiest way to go. Therefore, if blacks increase their customer share with the airlines, then it seems reasonable that the airlines would hire more blacks for the team providing the service.
The airlines’ response is likely to be that there aren’t many qualified African-American pilots and engineers to choose from. Blacks’ response should be that it is difficult to aspire to become something that you do not see. That is, if the airlines were to hire and train more black pilots and engineers, then more young blacks would be motivated to join the industry.
The future promises to be about science and technology—including space. However, the starting point for access to space is flying. Therefore, if airlines don’t begin to boost their black staff, African-Americans will continue to lag in aiming for these roles, a missed opportunity of universal proportions.
Dr. B.B. Robinson is an economist and director of BlackEconomics.org, a resource for economic concepts, issues and policies affecting African-Americans.
(AJC) — Airline flights from Atlanta to Athens and Macon could lose eligibility for federal subsidies as Congress looks for ways to cut programs some legislators consider wasteful. The federal Essential Air Service program subsidized 20-minute flights on nine-passenger planes that often flew nearly empty between Atlanta and Macon until January, and it continues to subsidize flights between Atlanta and Athens.
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., cited support for Atlanta-Macon flights as an example of “the most wasteful government spending” last year, noting an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report that the subsidy amounted to $464 per passenger based on actual ridership. The Senate passed an aviation funding bill last month that included a Coburn amendment to ax the subsidies for cities within 90 miles of larger airports and for flights that carry fewer than 10 passengers per day. The House is considering a version that would not immediately change eligibility — but would gradually dismantle the entire subsidy program everywhere but Alaska and Hawaii.
(Entrepreneur) — The bottom line is that the airlines are in the biggest money-making opportunity of their entire lives with their frequent flyer programs. The major airlines actually make more money with the frequent flyer programs than they do as airlines. The market value of American Airlines frequent flyer program is more than $6 billion — the market itself is $2.4 billion. What does it tell you? Airlines make a lot of money by selling miles to their miles partners — credit card companies, banks, et cetera — so you get a dollar for every dollar you spend — but guess what? The airlines don’t just print the currency, they’re in charge of the redemption. If they keep the redemption levels under 10%, that’s 90% return on investment. So we’re all mileage addicts — we love knowing how many miles we have. When you call the airline, the first thing they say to you is we don’t have seats at 25,000 miles, we have seats at 50,000 — that’s extortion.