Flying these days can be a headache.
The long lines, the delays, and the cramped cabin space are enough to make anyone feel defeated. What’s more, though, airlines also have a lot of rules in place that can make your travelling experience even more frustrating.
Here are three rules consumers find most unfair.
Did you know that most of the time you whip out your wallet to buy a plane ticket, you’re still putting money toward a fuel surcharge?
The price of oil has dropped significantly, at one point falling more than 70% compared to June 2014 levels, and yet that extra charge still remains for several airlines.
It’s no longer explicitly listed in your total ticket price following a 2012 ruling by the Department of Transportation that stated the charge must “reflect a reasonable estimate of the per-passenger fuel costs incurred by the carrier.” But as a 2016 Bloomberg article points out, that charge now exists under the term “carrier-imposed fees” or “carrier fees” for several airlines.
“The real frustration has come in the last year or so as we’ve seen a tremendous correction in the path of fuel, yet in a lot of cases no change or only a modest change in this fuel surcharge line item,” Greg Geronemus, co-CEO of tour package provider smarTours, told Business Insider. “There’s really no justifiable reason for that to be the case.”
Geronemus said the surcharge adds “several hundred dollars” in a lot of cases — an extra cost smarTours is still absorbing when putting together vacation packages.
Refunds for cabin changes
The Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney outlined how one passenger, Mary Ellen Duffy, needed a lawyer to get a full refund when she was bumped from first-class to coach. In the case of Duffy, she was given a refund through American Airlines based on the difference of the price of her first-class ticket and the price of a coach seat at that time.
Duffy found the whole situation unfair, considering when she bought the first-class ticket the cost of a coach seat was significantly lower.
A United Airlines spokesperson told Business Insider that a refund is still calculated in this manner, by refunding the difference between an economy seat and the first-class ticket.
But an American Airlines refund is now calculated based on the length of a trip, spokesman Josh Freed told Business Insider. The airline will calculate a dollar amount per mile and also provide a voucher to the customer.
“The end result ends up being that they get in the neighbourhood of what a coach ticket would have been,” Freed said.
But considering how pricey a first-class ticket can be, as well as the general inconvenience of moving to a seat you don’t want, getting in “the neighbourhood” can still seem like a lacking response to some.
Refunds for delayed baggage
Another seemingly unjust rule McCartney outlines in his article is the lack of fee refunds for checked bags that get delayed.
Most airlines now charge for the first checked bag, but that fee isn’t always reimbursed if your bag is delayed to arrive. Congress passed a law this year that now requires airlines to refund bags that are delayed more than 12 hours as part of a new Department of Transportation rule.
United Airlines and Delta are two airlines that have updated their rules to provide a refund if a bag is delayed for longer than that 12-hour period.
Still, if it’s under 12 hours, you’re out of luck.
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