March 7-13: Rising Airport Fee, Blacklist, Changes to Skymiles, Stolen Miles, Selfie Stick Ban & more

This week’s round-up brings the latest airline travel news — from airlines balking at raising airport fee, a blacklist for bad fliers, and Delta changes SkyMiles program, to stolen frequent flier miles, Southwest’s new international route, selfie stick ban, and canine stowaway, and more. Enjoy!

Airlines Against Airport Fee Hike

If Congress gets their way, your airfare will be $3.50 more in 2016 when the airport fee goes from $4.50 to $8. Known as the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), this fee is used by airports to fund FAA-approved improvements. The fee has been capped at $4.50 since 2000 and made $2.8 billion in 2013. Now a trade group for domestic airlines, Airlines for America, is pushing back and trying to stop the increase, and even created a whole website dedicated to this issue. This could be just me, but perhaps airlines should look at their ancillary fees and the ever shrinking coach seats first.

Chinese Airlines Want Blacklist

If you’re flying on a Chinese carrier, you better be on your best behavior. In the past few months, several flight delays and disruptions have made the news including a passenger wanting fresh air, a Mom changing her child’s diaper and a restless child getting the entire family kicked off the plane. According to the general manager of China Eastern airline Ma Xulun, “The Civil Aviation Administration of China has begun evaluating the blacklist system. I hope it is put in place very soon.” Whether this comes to fruition or how it’ll work remains to be seen.

Changes to Delta’s Skymiles

Frequent fliers on Delta Air Lines can now book a one-way mileage award ticket for as low as 10,000 miles. The new one-way award ticket requires a 21-day advance purchase, and is available for select flights within the U.S., to Mexico and Caribbean.

Man Steals Airline Miles

A Floridian man has been accused of stealing more than $260,000 in frequent flyer miles from American Airlines customers and redeeming the points for plane tickets, rentals cars and hotels. Milad Avazdavani is now facing felony charges for grand theft, computer fraud and unlawful possession of stolen credit cards.

Southwest Now Flies Internationally

Over the weekend, Southwest Airlines commenced it first international flight, from Houston Hobby International to Aruba, with a stop in Miami. Southwest plans to spend $150 million to add five new gates for international travel at Hobby to accommodate additional international flights later this year including Belize, Mexico, and Costa Rica.

Southwest Cancels Man’s Itinerary During Flight

Imagine going on a trip, and upon arrival at your destination, you find an email stating that your return ticket has been cancelled because you were a no-show for the flight you just got off. This happened to Bob Woudstra last month when he flew on Southwest from Grand Rapids to Ft. Myers, causing him to have to buy new return ticket for $456. Southwest has since refunded Mr. Woudstra for the additional return ticket, but he is seeking a full refund on both tickets for his trouble.

United to Upgrade Lounge Food

United Airlines is finally upgrading its food offerings in its club lounges worldwide. The new menu was first unveiled at the Club Lounges at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, with the lounges in Houston, Denver, Newark, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington Dulles getting the updated menu by the end of summer and goes worldwide by the end of the year. New breakfast items include oatmeal, Greek yogurt, scones, bagels, boiled eggs and fresh fruit, while lunch and dinner options will include hummus, hot soup, salami cheese and more. This is a welcomed change from the usual cheese and crackers, as most foreign airlines’ lounges’ have been serving proper, hot food for years.

In addition, all United Club agents will be retrained to act more like a hotel concierge.

Random Stories of the Week
Selfie Stick Ban

If you’re using one of the increasingly popular selfie sticks, keep in mind that several attractions around the whole have banned these self-portrait devices, saying they are “obnoxious and potentially dangerous.” Among the places that have a ban on the selfie sticks are Versailles in France, Rome’s Colosseum, the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. and the National Gallery in London.

Chihuahua Stows Away in Owner’s Checked Bag

Guess the doggie wanted some LA sunshine too! Unbeknownst to Lisa Farbstein, who was on her way from New York to Los Angeles, her 7-year-old Chihuahua decided to stowaway in her checked bag. Fortunately, an unknown-contents alarm triggered, saving the doggie from what would have been a really uncomfortable flight.

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