Monday, February 09, 2015

More Airline Controversy on the Horizon...

FlyersRights discovered this patent for
new airline seating.
Last December, we covered several airline changes that were reported to be implemented later this year. FlyersRights has since uncovered more industry changes that could impact your next flight.

JetBlue's announcement that flyers would now be charged for checked bags was met with disappointment. The change appears to be preparing JetBlue for it's new tiered pricing model. Where airfare once included everything in a slightly higher base fare, the new trend tends towards a more "pick and choose" approach. JetBlue will instead offer flyers three distinct tiers of fare. The base tier requires payment for each and every checked bag, the middle tier will allow one free checked bag and the final tier will allow flyers two free checked bags.

The exact benefits and pricing included with each tier has yet to be announced, and consumers can expect to receive an official announcement in the second quarter. These new tiered fares are reportedly being tested, but no one is sure where or how. Additionally, pricing for the line's Even More Space seats, quicker security and priority boarding will be changed and shifted in light of the new "fare families", although exactly how remains to be seen. Depending on what these tiers include, it could be a blessing or a curse depending on what sort of flyer you are. If you can squeeze every benefits out of the top tier, it might prove to be an excellent investment. Meanwhile, if you just want the checked bags from one of the top two options and nothing else, you might be more than let down.

FlyersRights also unearthed a patent filed by a major airline that allows for even more passengers to fit inside a standard aircraft. This restraint system allows for passengers to essentially "stand" during flight. Collapsible, bicycle-esq "seats" and backrests are anchored to a metal bar that replaces the standard seating row. These semi-seats appear to be held at a slightly higher height in such a manner that flyers don't sit with their legs parallel to the ground, but instead have their legs mostly straight with a slight incline, allowing for overall legroom to be compressed. Whether or not these seats will see the light of day remains to be seen, but we can imagine some major outcry if they go live.

Whether you love or hate Southwest Airlines, no one can deny the controversy circulating around them. This past January saw the settlement of a lawsuit that has revolves around the safety of Southwest aircrafts. As early as 2008, reports arose of Southwest falsifying safety reports, and recently in July of 2014, a mechanic discovered cracks in the aircraft and documented them. Southwest then reportedly issued the mechanic a warning that he acted outside the scope of work and further violation would be followed with disciplinary action.

The issue was elevated to court, and the judge stated the letter had the effect of dissuading Southwest employees from reporting flaws or abnormalities for fear of discipline. Naturally, this would mean that potentially unsafe crafts were still flying. The settlement saw Southwest paying proper compensation to the mechanic, but their overall attitude of silencing the mechanic instead of praising for unearthing defects is a bit worrying to many.

For more on JetBlue's upcoming changes, the potential "saddle-seat" seating model and additional information on the Southwest case, check out FlyersRights directly! And we'd love to have your take - what's your opinion on these recent airline controversies?

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