June 1, 2016

Take a long, hard look at the photo. Thousands packed together is an open invitation for attack. We've put outsized importance on planes, but not the people stacked in queues. The terror attack at Brussels airport took place in the pre-security zone, like this. Passengers in congested lines waiting for the TSA could be sitting ducks.
Memorial Day has come and gone. We honored the many who gave their lives for protecting our freedom. 

But when we attempt to travel around our country and the world by air, freedom seems elusive when we're radiated or groped at the airport security line.

What's taking place in America's airports in the name of security? 

As we remembered those who lost their lives serving the US military, ask yourself how they would feel about the assault on citizens' freedom when attempting to fly to go on vacation, visit grandma or travel for work?  

The degrading experience of having to partially disrobe and submit to invasive bodily inspection by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners is bad enough. But having to wait two hours for it adds insult to injury.

The short-term problem is that there aren't anywhere near enough screeners on hand at major airports, especially during peak travel times. And Congress absolutely must share the blame.

The new TSA chief, Peter Neffenger, does not seem to care about thousands of passengers a week missing their flights, or the attack risk in thousands predictably jammed together in tight quarters for hours on end (and what does that tell us about the true risk to peoples' lives?).  

Make The Airlines Stop Charging For Checked Baggage

The major carriers (except Southwest) demand $25-$35 for the first checked bag, thus causing people to drag their luggage through the airport, choking the X-ray lines and bogging down the boarding procession.

Given the situation, the airlines should not be permitted to charge people to check small bags. Many travelers would check their bags if it didn't cost so much money. Imagine, a family of four travelling on United Airlines. Four small bags, round trip, would cost $200. It's easy to see why people don't do it. 

So egregious are the fees for checked baggage, it has resulted in the need for many more TSA agents, a cost paid by the taxpayers and thus a government subsidy. If the industry is subsidized, the government has every right to step in and regulate.

The concept that flyers should be slapped with an added fee for, um, bringing a bag?!, appeared in 2008 when the price of jet fuel skyrocketed.  Except now fuel costs have tanked. But the airlines are raking in monster bag fees - last year over $3.8 billion. So why are taxpayers on the hook for the bill? 

But this isn't about common sense and efficiency, it's about the cash cow the airlines have created with the checked baggage fees.

At minimum, kill the baggage fees for the first bag and in busy periods, require those with small carry-ons to go through a different line. Those with only a personal item that fits under the seat should have a faster line, like "12 items or less" at the grocery checkout. 

Wouldn't you agree? The airlines should suspend bag fees as a peace pipe with their tortured customers. The Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson meekly asked the airlines to "consider possibly" this token to airport civility. Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal, last week asked a dozen airlines to drop the bag fees.

The airlines' response? HAHAHA

Employee Turnover

Another reason for the long lines at our airports is that TSA is reportedly losing over 100 employees a week and has to replace them to stay at the present employment level, plus add additional employees to handle the long lines at check-in.

Find out why employees are leaving TSA and fix it. Is it working conditions or compensation? Are many of these employees fired for cause? 

The High Cost of Wasted Time

The public's wasted time isn't accounted for in the TSA's budget any more than pollution is accounted for in a corporation's budget. How do you quantify the loss of productivity experienced by American businesses when airports have a 3-hour security wait?

If we really want to have a change, stop the special treatment of our governmental officials. Let them line up for hours like cattle. When all members of Congress are in line with us, they will begin to have some understanding of what the rest of us go through.

Have we had enough yet?

Please take a moment to ask: What can I do as a citizen to end the assault on our freedom and restore what so many of our military personnel lost their lives to save? 

Citizens must do their part by becoming activists and work to bring about the change we need to remain free.

Thank you for your support of FlyersRights. 

Your Letters!

Dear FlyersRights:
A group of people from our office recently had to book a flight for a business trip. 

Several of us paid different fares for the same trip, booked on the same day. The travel agent who arranges our agency's travel told us that she once booked seven people on the same flight, one after the other. 

The price went up progressively for each of the seven though they were booked minutes apart. It reminds me of the line from "Sleepless in Seattle" where one of the children asks rhetorically, "Do you know how much it costs to fly to New York?" and the other replies, "No one knows. They change the price every hour."
Keep up the good work.
You raise an important issue.

The age of fixed pricing is rapidly waning as super computers now calculate what the price will be based on what will produce maximum revenue. Airlines call this yield based pricing, otherwise known as charging whatever the market will bear.

The next step airlines are trying to introduce is pricing that prohibits ticketing booking multiple one way fares instead of higher round trip or multi city fares, and also discriminates based on passenger travel patterns or wealth and trip purpose.

This would be analogous to a drug store setting the price for medicine at the cash register based on how sick you are and your wealth,  rather than a fixed transparent price.

Paul Hudson 

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