First off, I am not advocating anything. Personally I think what is in place mostly works. I say mostly because so many times readers contact me to ask what their “rights” are in some situation and my most common answer is something like “do you think this is the EU where you have flyer rights”. When my KLM flight was delayed for 3 hours and delivered me home 5+ hours late I had to fight them for YEARS but I got compensation in the end. All Delta gave me for my issue was some SkyMiles (we know how valuable those are).
So that begs the question: is it time for some kind of law or laws to protect flyers? If so, what laws and what could be some of the consequences (there always are). Here is my short list of ideas (not that I support them all):
- Minimum leg room between seats
- Minimum seat width
- Minimum seat pitch / recline
- What seats airlines can charge more for
- Overselling flights
- Checked bag fees including connections
- Carry-on bags (how many)
- Your frequent flyer miles
These would be my “hot button” list. Some of them I think could one day make it into a so called “passenger bill of rights” or something like that to protect “us” against the “all powerful” airlines. Some I think have no chance. Let’s look at each one.
Leg room. I would love to see this. Yes, there would be a cost if airlines can pack less seats on a plane but to me, and I think most would agree, paying a little more to know any airline that flies to/from/in the USA will have at least some minimum space for your legs.
Seat width. If anyone gripes that the aircraft is only so wide they did not read the post and just jumped right to the comments section to call me out. I get that a jet is only “so wide” and this limits how wide a seat can be made. However, let’s consider the Delta 777. Right now in coach it is 3-3-3. With new slim line seats and thin armrests it could fit inside the existing circle 3-4-3. You see my point? Heck, maybe some air frames that are now 3-3 would have to go 2-3 instead (now wouldn’t that be amazing?)! Sure prices would go up (ok, maybe a lot) but don’t say it cannot be done – because it can, just at a cost.
Seat recline. Some seats are now all fixed. Some have limited recline. Either way, unless it is for say safety in an exit row, this is a personal issue for me. My back cannot take an ultra upright seat for too long. I would love a minimum here. Maybe you are the same.
What seats they can sell. Airlines are making a fortune segmenting seats, that in Delta’s case are all the same, but calling them “preferred” or C+ seats by offering an “enhanced” experience. I am over this. How about a law that says an airline can only charge more for a seat that is bigger than the rest i.e. wider and more than the minimum? If you are going to charge a premium price it should be a premium seat not just a so called premium experience (that may not be that premium after all).
Overselling flights. Personally I am fine with airlines overselling and what Delta has done with the 10k bump offer will fix their problem forever. However, I could see a law that says they can only oversell by 1 or 2% or something like this to prevent crazy situations? What do you think?
Checked bags fees. This I think could happen as well. I have no issue with bag fees as it is up to us how much we want to fly with and with simple fixes like holding a Delta AMEX card you can get a TON of bags free, but what I don’t like is when airlines charge you twice. Sometimes if you connect to another airline on a ticket you get charged again. I could see no more than 1x someone gets a fee. You?
Carry-on bags. Delta is really good about this. You can take a reasonably sized carry-on as well as a small personal item purse, laptop bag etc. All airlines are not as good as Delta. I can see this Delta standard as a law of minimum. Again, yes, I see some fees going up with this as a law but it may also show a more true cost of one airline to another?
Frequent flyer miles. I don’t think we will ever see any laws on these as they are not the “buzz” right now and past cases have shown the airlines own them not you (no matter what your account seems to say). I am fine with this as I am currently not taxed for my miles and I like it that way. I think if they become “mine” the IRS may see them as an asset and rethink the current rules (ps I am no tax expert so consult your own tax person about all things points).
So there you are. What do you think. Should any or all of these ideas become part of any kind of “passenger bill of rights”? Have I missed any that should really be included? Vote in my poll below or comment on this post! – René