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American - All posts tagged American

  • Oct 31, 2011
    3:46 PM ET

    New Rules Didn’t Help Stranded Airline Passengers

    iStockphoto

    The threat of massive fines apparently isn’t enough to stop airlines from stranding passengers on the tarmac. On Saturday, some 100 JetBlue passengers and an unspecified number on American Airlines flights were left stuck on a runway at Bradley Airport in Hartford, CT. for seven hours during the snow storm.

    These incidents raise the question: Are new Department of Transportation rules enough? They stipulate that airlines can incur maximum fines of a staggering $27,500 per passenger if planes sit on the tarmac for more than three hours on domestic U.S. flights. (In JetBlue’s case, passengers were stranded without adequate food, water or functioning restrooms. American Airlines say passengers had food and beverages.)

    The amount of any airline fine depends on a number of factors, including the seriousness of the violation and harm caused to consumers, the carrier’s compliance disposition and ability to pay, says Bill Mosley, a Department of Transport spokesman.

  • Jun 7, 2011
    6:23 PM ET

    Nickels & Dimes: The Newest New Airline Fees

    iStockphoto

    On a recent flight from St. Lucia back to New York, it was the alcohol that did me in. Two bottles of island rum pushed my checked bag 0.5 pounds over JetBlue’s 50-pound limit. Prepared to thwart the $50 overweight bag fee, I promptly sorted a few things out into a separate, soft duffle — and got hit with an unexpected second-bag fee of $35.

    I take full blame: JetBlue has charged for a second bag on international flights since 2008. But international fliers should be aware: United Continental, Delta and American have all added fees for checking a second bag on some international flights this year. All three have also increased fees on other routes; Jet Blue also raised its checked-bag fees from $30 to $35.

    It’s a major shift in international travel, which has largely been fee-free due to a combination of high fares and carriers’ ability to easily tack on fuel surcharges, says Basili Alukos, an equity analyst for Morningstar. Just a few years ago, even economy travelers on international flights could count on two free checked bags weighing up to 70 pounds each. But now the free second bag has all but disappeared, and now costs $35 to $75. Weight limits have dropped, too, with overweight fees of $100 and up kicking in at 50 pounds. Some routes won’t even accept bags weighing more than 70 pounds, forcing consumers into even pricier airline cargo arrangements.

    “Airlines are trying to get another source of revenue, and they must think international travelers are more elastic on pricing,” Alukos says. After all, if you’re shelling out $1,200 for airfare to Paris or London this summer, what’s another $70 to check a second bag?

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.