Them and us?
The US aviation sector remains in a state of paradox, if reports of US Airways senior executive pay are anything to go by.
At several airports served by the carrier, staff have started to call into question the carrier’s operating model that has seen, for example, the company CEO reputedly seek a 44% pay rise. Chief concerns are the lack of security in the job, the absence of much in the way of benefits and the fact that salaries can be as low as US$5 an hour. Disgruntled staff at Newark, New York, Fort Lauderdale, Boston and Philadelphia, this latter something of blackspot in terms of unemployment, have been vocal on this subject and a number protested recently about the situation outside a US Airways shareholders’ meeting in Manhattan.
The reality that sees numbers of ramp workers obliged to hold down two jobs to make ends meet is not good news when the sector’s gaze is so firmly fixed on making the ramp a safer place.
When random is the name of the game
The Transportation Security Administration has said that it is planning to use electronic Randomizers to help funnel passengers into airport security lines. In addition to providing a simple way to direct travelers into different queues, it also would make it more difficult for any passengers with nefarious intent to slip past security with prohibited items.
In June, the TSA issued a Request for Information; in this, it asked interested vendors to share ideas and suggestions for procuring such random directing systems. These applications, it says, would subsequently be deployed at most medium and large US airports.
When asked about the reasoning behind the devices, the TSA replied that it was sticking to a multi-layered approach to security, utilizing measures that were both seen and unseen. Unpredictability would play an important part in this philosophy.
Delta Air Lines fined again for bumping
The Transportation Department has fined Delta Air Lines US$750,000 for bumping passengers from full flights without asking for volunteers and for failing to provide information about the levels of compensation that are available. Delta committed similar violations in July 2009, when the airline was fined $375,000.
“Airline passengers deserve to be treated fairly, especially if they are forced to miss a flight because an airline oversold seats,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in announcing the fine. “Consumers have rights, and we will continue to take enforcement action when airlines violate our rules, to protect the traveling public.”
Federal regulations require airlines to seek volunteers willing to give up their seats when flights are oversold. If passengers still need to be bumped, they are entitled to up to $1,300, depending on the cost of their tickets and length of delay.
The Transportation Department’s aviation enforcement office reviewed 310 bumping complaints against Delta from November 2010 to January 2012. The complaints said that Delta didn’t seek volunteers, didn’t provide written notices about cash compensation and counted some bumped passengers as volunteers.
Have fees, will raise?
Alaska Airlines has just announced that it is raising its fee for a checked-in bag to US$25.
It has said that for tickets purchased on or after October 30 this year, passengers will pay a fee of US$25 each for the first and second checked bags. Any additional bags will cost US$75 each. At present, the airline charges US$20 per bag for the first three suitcases. Work out the sums and you will see that for a passenger carrying three bags, this is effectively doubling the ancillary revenue. That represents a 100% hike in fees.
In its defense, the airline says that it will keep its unique baggage service guarantee. If a passenger’s bags are not at the baggage claim area within 20 minutes of the aircraft parked at the gate, Alaska says that it will issue a refund of US$20 for use on a future flight or 2,000 extra frequent flier miles. This discount is set to increase to US$25 and the allowance to 2,500 miles on the above-mentioned date.
VIP bag delivery service
Customers are now able to have their bags delivered directly to their home, hotel or business, thanks to Bags VIP delivery. Travelers can schedule and pay for a Bags VIP delivery up to one hour prior to their scheduled departure by visiting maketraveleasier.com/usairways Once scheduled, customers then need only to drop their bags off at the airport and pay any applicable baggage fees. Items will then be delivered within four to six hours of arrival. This convenient delivery service starts at US$29.95 and is offered in all domestic locations that the airline serves.