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The Travel Detective on Additional Airline Fees, GM Bankruptcy and Airline Safety Standards

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Jet PlaneIn the land of the fee and the home of the brave, airlines are adding even more charges and fees.

Would you believe that since last year, American Airlines has earned an additional $60 million in revenue just for charging for checked bags?

And you wonder why I FedEx my bags …

And there are more fees coming.

In fact, there was a recent conference in the United States among airline executives in which they discussed the opportunities available for “pre-flight retailing” and” in-flight retailing.” You may have noticed that a number of airlines have gone to what’s called a “cashless cabin,” in which everything is done by credit card.

So don’t be surprised to see them selling everything short of ab-sizers on the plane to increase their revenue.

They won’t raise their airfare because they want to stay competitive, but the real question is whether they are competitive on value. For every 10 feet the airplane goes up in the air, that’s how many times you’ll be nickel and dimed on the flight.

We’re also seeing gas prices start to creep back up. Gee, what a surprise—summer is here.

But now that GM has filed for bankruptcy, take a look at what the car-rental companies will be doing because they depend entirely on automobile manufacturers to deliver their fleets.

Remember when Taurus was advertised as the number-one selling car in America? You know how they got that title? Hertz increased its fleet order. And guess who owned Hertz at the time … Ford. The bankruptcy will directly affect what happens on the rental-car lot.

Continental logoThe other thing in the news is commuter airline safety. I recently got an angry letter from somebody at Continental saying, “It wasn’t a Continental Airlines flight that crashed over Buffalo; it was a Colgan Air flight.” Oh really? And what logo did it have on the tail? Continental Airlines.

Bottom line: We deserve nothing less than the same safety standards applying to mainline carriers applying to the commuter airlines, especially if they’re going to carry those names and those logos. You get mileage from Continental from taking that flight; your ticket is issued by Continental; the magazine onboard belongs to Continental. As far as I’m concerned, there is no difference. But according to the FAA there is a difference.

When we start looking at the commuter pilots’ training we’re talking about some serious real estate here that hasn’t been properly explored.

Aviation instrumentsCan you believe that the pilot on the Buffalo flight wasn’t properly trained on how to handle a stall? I’ve got news for you—I couldn’t get a license flying a Cessna if I didn’t understand how to handle a stall. What made them not required to know how to do that? Because they were a commuter airline? Not good enough, guys.

Under new oversight and a new head of the FAA, my prediction is as long as they don’t take Quaaludes to get up in the morning like the old FAA did, they need to apply the exact same safety standards for certification, safety and maintenance oversight for the commuter carriers as they do to the mainline carriers—especially as long as they’re carrying that logo of a mainline carrier.

If they don’t, they’re in my book, practicing negligence. Because what is negligence? You know there’s a problem, you know there’s a solution, and you intentionally decide not to implement the solution, for whatever reason. And then something goes wrong. I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but even I could try that case and win.

By Peter S. Greenberg for Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio. Listen to the first hour of the show here.

Check out previous coverage of the crash of Flight 3407:

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