airlines

JetBlue pilots vote to join union, airline rankings, what every traveler should pack

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Airlines assert that a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requirement that they prominently display the full price of an airline ticket (base fare, taxes, fees) in a print or online advertisement treats them differently than other industries. They are correct. There is a reason. They are treated differently on many different levels.

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A carry-on bag is included in Lana Joseph’s ticket price whenever she flies from Cleveland to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on United Airlines. But if that carry-on includes Molly, her six-pound Yorkshire terrier, Joseph has to cough up an additional $250 round-trip.

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In air transportation, the ultimate “opt out” is the use of private aircraft to avoid, for a very high price, the hassles of common-carrier airlines. Private charter flights are exempt from TSA screening searches, and often operate from separate “executive” terminals or even separate airports most airline passengers have never heard of, such as those in Teterboro, NJ, for New York City, or Van Nuys, CA, for greater Los Angeles.

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There’s no worse form of torture for travelers like Jeanne Marchadie than having to endure the sound of people yakking on a cellphone in close quarters.

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We take a look at how incomplete delay data from the airlines doesn’t tell the full story about schedules and problems with on-time arrivals and departures. Next, the travel editor for Conde Nast Traveler has a chance encounter with a group of United flight attendants and discovers some juicy information. Finally, hotel security is getting an upgrade with new abilities to monitor nooks and crannies of the hotels never before protected.

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We ponder. Are snowboarders a protected class that should be considered like race and gender under federal law? Can interminable waits on airline holds ruin classical favorites? Can you go cold turkey on business travel? Stop completely? We hear from a writer who did just that.

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Last month at the Advisory Committee on Aviation Consumer Protections, I started a discussion about displaying posters at airports informing passengers of their rights. Amazingly, both the airlines and the airports have no interest in new ways to tell passengers their rights.

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As Juanita Centanni boarded a recent Cayman Airways flight from Tampa to Grand Cayman, she braced herself for an awful travel experience.

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During the budget negotiations last year that produced a two-year budget deal, airline passengers were slapped with more than a doubling of TSA Security fees for many fliers. Now in a new bill working its way through Congress, airline passengers are facing a 30 percent increase in the immigration user fee paid by airline passengers on international flights to the United States as part of the FY 2014 omnibus appropriations package.

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