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The Case of the Missing Gift Certificate: Flying in the Age of Monopolies

By Pauline Frommer

Posted on 08/15/2017, 1:15 AM

An airplane aisle separated the haves from the have nots. I’m not writing about the aisle separating business class and economy. No, in this case, the left-side of the plane, on a six hour flight from San Francisco to New York City, was in a 21st century crisis: our seatback monitors were on the fritz. The right hand side passengers were lulled into a stupor by visions of Americans who supposedly h...

Basic Fares Come to United Airlines: You Must Pay to Use Overhead Bins

By Pauline Frommer

Posted on 11/15/2016, 11:30 PM

Hello Middle Seat! United Airlines announced today that they were following Delta's lead and would be offerring so-called "Basic Economy Fares". When Delta started offering similar fares in the summer of 2015, they offerred a savings of between $10 and $25 per flight, on average. So they're definitely cheaper, but boy can they be ugly. Buy one and you'll be assigned a seat, with no cho...

Priceline Ditches Its "Name Your Own Price" Program for Airfares. What's the Real Meaning of This Move for Consumers?

By Pauline Frommer

Posted on 09/08/2016, 1:30 PM

When Priceline launched its “Name Your Own Price” feature for airfare some 15 years ago, the effect was electric. A major company had pulled back the curtain, letting the public in on a dirty little secret no one in the travel industry wanted them to know: that prices were always negotiable. But this week Priceline announced that it would no longer be offering bidding for airfares. Which ...

Beware! A New Airfare Gotcha Penalizes Travelers on Multi-Stop Itineraries

By Pauline Frommer

Posted on 04/12/2016, 11:30 PM

TimDorr/Flickr The majority of travelers buy non-refundable airfares for a simple reason: They're vastly less expensive than refundable fares. But those who try to book itineraries with several stops have been finding, in the past month, that they no longer are given the option of purchasing that cheaper form of fare—at least on Delta, United, and American Airlines. Our thanks to ...

The Department of Transportation Is Getting Serious About Airlines Compensating Passengers for Damaged Luggage

By Pauline Frommer

Posted on 12/02/2015, 9:15 PM

If you think passengers are being treated disrespectfully by the airlines—what with ever shrinking seats and ever growing fees—consider what their luggage is going through. Recently, a series of video have gone viral, showing baggage handlers hurling luggage onto conveyor belts in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and playing a rough game of "who can toss the bag the farthest" on the tarmac in San Jose, C...

American Airlines Changes Its Frequent Flyer Program, Making It Near Impossible for Average Joes to Earn Miles Just from Flying Any Longer

By Pauline Frommer

Posted on 11/24/2015, 12:45 PM

And then there were none. Did you hear a loud groan last week? That was the members of American Airlines' frequent flyer program—well, all but the business travelers—reacting to the announcement that the last major carrier to be giving awards points for miles flown was moving to a points for cash system. It joins Delta, United and pretty much every carrier but Alaska, Spirit and Frontier i...

The Sky Isn't Falling But Airfares Are: Air Pricing Sees the Biggest One-Month Drop in 20 Years

By Pauline Frommer

Posted on 08/21/2015, 11:15 AM

  For months, the second most popular travel question that's been lobbed my way (after "is X, Y or Z safe?") has been: "Why, with the cost of gas so low, haven't airfares dropped". I always took the cynical road, pointing out that in this age of monopolies, the airlines had no reason to drop their prices since so many of them fully controlled hubs and routes within the United States. ...

The Time Has Come to Consider Re-Regulation of the Airline Industry

By Arthur Frommer

Posted on 06/25/2015, 11:30 PM

  In a modern democracy, "regulation" is no longer a dirty word. Unregulated medications can hurt or kill you, unregulated monopolists can destroy competition, and unregulated home construction can lead to disastrous fires. Although a small number of extreme libertarians will disagree with regulation of the above activities or products, the majority of Americans fervently approve ...

Want to Use Your Frequent Flyer Miles? Guess How Many You'll Need. No, Really, GUESS, Says One Airline

By Pauline Frommer

Posted on 03/12/2015, 1:00 PM

How would you feel if you walked into a grocery store and underneath the butter, the broccoli and the babaganoush were signs with question marks rather than prices? Well, Delta has done the equivalent of that just recently on its website, when it removed the charts showing the minimum number of miles needed to book. As if mileage programs weren't opaque enough! This follows on the heels, o...

Bye-Bye, Economy! Delta Airlines Introduces Five New Classes of Seating

By Pauline Frommer

Posted on 12/16/2014, 4:00 AM

In 2013, Delta Airlines collected $1.67 billion dollars in so-called ancillary fees last year (mostly change fees and baggage fees), whupping its nearest competitor by almost $300 million dollars. Seems that wasn't enough. Delta has just announced that it will be making it even harder for budget travelers not to pay extra fees, with the implementation of five new classes of servic...

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