The good, bad and ugly in the increasing unfriendly skies

By Patti Pietschmann, Travel Diva

Delta Airlines raises the bar on cleanliness

Flying into Maui on Delta by Patti Pietschmann

Getting back on an airplane during days of Covid19 is harder than “getting back on the horse” after a fall. It’s not such friendly skies any more.

New rules and bumpy rides ahead as American Airlines stirs the pot

Listen to this.  Even as coronavirus spikes to new highs, American Airlines is resuming booking flights to capacity beginning July 1. The airline, which had previously limited capacity, said it will continue to notify customers of full flights and let them change flights at no cost. They’ll also let passengers change seats on the plane provided there is room and they stay in the same cabin.

Delta and Southwest are continuing to  block middle seats through the end of September. Alaska Airlines is blocking middle seats through the end of July.

Mandatory masks

First of all  mandatory mask wearing is causing some passengers to rebel. You know, those bullet-proof types who don’t think they can catch Covid19. These eruptions cause delays because the crew has to have the rebellious sorts taken off the plane.

Health checks coming for anyone boarding flights

Mandatory masks on United

United (crew shown above) is  insisting  all passengers complete a health self-assessment during their check-in process.  It’s call a Ready to Fly checklist. And requires passengers to confirm that they have not had COVID-19-related symptoms in the 14 days prior to flying.

The state of Hawaii is attempting to take this ever farther.  Governor Ige is trying to get a bill passed that would require anyone flying into the islands to undergo a Covid19 test 24 to 72 hours before boarding a plane. As of today  Hawaii also imposes a 14-day quarantine of any visitor flying  there.  This is effective through the end of July 2020.

 Forget food and drinks

To make matters worse for flyers, many airlines are abandoning in-flight food and drink service in coach.  First Class flyers however still get meals but no longer served in courses. Many airlines are also greatly limiting carry ons.First class on Hawaiian Airlines

Pillows and blankets are also amenities of the past.

Some carriers are offering snack packs to coach class folks during boarding.  And first class passengers are also affected.  Major changes are afoot on Delta and Hawaiian. 

 And there’s more and it’s ugly

And this truly gripes this flyer. Especially since some of my experiences with American included faulty seats and screw ups with tickets. So now, even as many suffer heart aches from Covid19, the airline is denying compensation for any  mistakes.

Read it and weep or scream.  American Airlines  has eliminated iSolve, the tool frontline employees used to compensate customers for things like broken seats and missing meals.  American Airlines crew were told to ‘de-escalate the situation’ and appease customers, But give them nothing.

The new ‘no compensation’ order includes the following:

  • Cabin comfort: broken reading lights and dry cleaning.
  • Catering: meal shortages and missing special meals (not including food for sale shortages).
  • Inflight entertainment: inoperable IFE (not including connectivity issues).
  • Seat issues: broken tray tables, inoperable seats, and seat swaps.

And get this. The airline’s not giving out paper compensation vouchers either. Employees were told that this was  “to provide consistency for our customers.” Any beefs with American need to addressed on its web site.

We reached out to American Airlines to fact check the above information. A response from Derek Walls corporate communications confirms. “We are taking a close look at every aspect of our operation, including tools and technology. As part of this review, we made the decision to suspend iSolve on June 8 and the issuance of Passenger Service compensation vouchers on June 16.”

Walls says for service issues that require additional follow up, customers should visit AA.com/CustomerRelations.

Even worse

On top of all that, according to an article in the The New York Times, some airlines are making it more difficult for flyers to settle disputes. They are insisting on arbitration vs court cases. Not only that but barring customers from participating or instigating class-action suits.

The Times piece reports that  American Airlines contract of carriage now outlines the legal responsibilities of a ticket holder and an airline, with a class-action waiver. British Airways also has class-action waiver and binding arbitration agreement in the terms and conditions of Executive Club.

Pandemic problem and here’s the rub

As coronavirus rages airlines are facing law suits for not refunding fares for flights canceled due to the pandemic. So far law suits are facing  American Airlines ,British Airways, Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines.

These lawsuits have attracted than 100 class members and seek more than $5 million in combined claims. All claim that the airlines are either breaching their own contracts of carriage — which usually codifies a passenger’s right to a cash refund when a flight is canceled — or sidestepping a Department of Transportation policy that requires airlines to give refunds when flights to, from or within the United States are canceled. Or both.

The good news
New normal on Delta Airlines

Members of Delta’s line maintenance crew disinfect the surfaces of the cabin including tray tables, seat backs and in-flight entertainment screens

While flying may not be as pleasant as before airlines are taking stringent methods to keep planes sanitized and safe for all.

Safe travels and be sure to check out the great deals for future vacations on Pavlus Travel.

 

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