Posts Tagged ‘airlines’
When the news broke regarding the idea of pay-as-you-weigh flights, everyone laughed it off, made some lazy jokes and told sneering anecdotes about tubby people on planes.
No-one really thought that an airline would be daft enough to try it out in the real world.
However, Samoa Air are going to actually do it and become the world’s first airline to implement “pay as you weigh” tariffs.
“This is the fairest way of travelling,” said chief executive of Samoa Air, Chris Langton. “There are no extra fees in terms of excess baggage or anything – it is just a kilo is a kilo is a kilo.”
“When you get into the Pacific, standard weight is substantially higher [than south-east Asia],” he said. “That’s a health issue in some areas. [This payment system] has raised the awareness of weight.”
This new system will see Samoa Air passengers being asked to input their weight and the weight of their baggage when online booking. You’ll be charged $1 per kg on short flights and around $4.16 per kg for longer distances. Anyone thinking they can flatter themselves in a bid to get cheaper flights will be met with a set of scales at the airport.
Mr Langton said he believed it to be a system of the future, adding that “the standard width and pitch of seats are changing as people are getting a bit bigger, wider and taller than they were 40 to 50 years ago” and that “a family of maybe two adults and a couple of mid-sized kids … can travel at considerably less than what they were being charged before.”
You have to wonder what this means for people who are really tall. Will they be penalised in the face of small thin people getting cheaper deals? Will people’s BMI index ratings come into play? It is more likely that airlines couldn’t give a toss and will apply a blanket rule and coin it in whichever way they can. Either way, it isn’t likely to see people going on crash diets to get cheaper flights, but it’ll be interesting to see if this model works into other businesses.
When you fly, it often feels like you’re about as appreciated and loved as a discarded Ryanair scratchcard. Your bags are left in Switzerland, and if you want a refund because they’ve cancelled your flight, airlines can get frostier than a wing tip at 35000 feet.
There’s already an EU directive catchily called ‘EU261’, which means that airlines have to refund cancelled flights, but often they like not to tell you about that, and let you go through the courts for compensation instead.
But thanks to new reforms proposed by the European parliament in Brussels, airlines are now going to have to behave themselves and put their bad attitude in the overhead locker.
From 2014, when the laws come into effect, airlines must book you on a rival carrier if they can’t take you to your destination within 12 hours. They also have to put you up in a hotel for a maximum of 3 days if you’re stranded. And if everything goes tits up on the tarmac, airline staff will have to give you water, put on air conditioning and open the bogs. In addition, they’ll be obliged to tell you what the hell is going on 30 mins before your flight is cancelled.
So, basically, airlines might start treating us like human beings, rather than irritating wasps with suitcases on wheels. Hurray!
60,000 jobs could be created if the Chancellor gets rid of Air Passenger Duty, and help “drag Britain out of recession” according to airlines.
This tax applies to all passengers flying from UK airports and it is argued that scrapping it would deliver a 0.45pc boost to GDP within a year, generating 60,000 jobs by 2020. This is all according to a report commissioned by British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic.
It’d be good for your pocket too as APD adds £13 to the cost of a short-haul flight and as much as £92 with longer flights. The PwC study estimates the economy would be £16bn wealthier by 2015 if APD got ditched. Basically, in terms of competitive aviation taxes, the only countries worse than the UK are Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali and Chad.
“I know 0.46pc doesn’t sound a lot but that’s the difference of dragging Britain out of recession and into growth,” said easyJet spokesman Paul Moore.
In a joint statement, Willie Walsh, head of BA’s parent company; easyJet boss Carolyn McCall; Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair; and Craig Kreeger, the new head of Virgin Atlantic, said: “[The report] proves APD is one of the three most destructive taxes, alongside corporation tax and fuel duty.”
A Treasury spokesman said: “Despite current pressure on the public finances and the challenge of cutting the deficit, the Government has limited any rise in APD to inflation since 2010. We do not recognise the figures in this report or agree with the assumptions behind it.”
Airlines and aircraft makers have been trying to sort out WiFi on planes for a while now and, in their bid to do so, they are testing out technology on terrifying human-potato hybrid people.
Cruel engineers at Boeing have created genetically modified Potato Men and are sending them to their death as they work on their vile experiments, designed to get us a wireless signal while we fly to some awful destination.
These poor Potato Men were forced to sit motionlessly for days at a time while scientists gathered data. Humans, it seems, can’t sit still for long enough. ”That’s where potatoes come into the picture,” Boeing spokesman Adam Tischler said.
The Potato Men were created because their water content and chemistry absorb and reflect radio wave signals in a similar way to humans. ”It’s a testament to the ingenuity of these engineers. They didn’t go in with potatoes as the plan,” Mr Tischler said.
Tischler said a member of the research team came across an article in the Journal of Food Science describing research in which 15 vegetables were evaluated for their dielectric properties, which ended up in the creation of Potato Men, who were then sent to their inevitable deaths in the name of getting scum like you an internet signal, which you’ll only use to send boring tweets anyway.
Next week: Bitterwallet’s official campaign to raise awareness to the plight of the Potato Men, headed up by Bruno Brookes
Budget airlines (Ryanair, easyJet, BMI Baby etc) are agreeing that they are going to have to include the cost of paying by debit card in the headline price of tickets, finally putting an end to the scam that made it nigh on impossible to pay for tickets without incurring a charge.
The airlines were forced to make these changes after an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading. New rules ensure that they’ll all have to explain any additional fee for paying by credit card up front, meaning that passengers won’t get these extra costs sprung on them after going through the annoyingly lengthy booking process.
The OFT estimated that debit and credit card surcharging has been costing consumers £300million a year and the best way around this is to introduce new regulations so that ticket prices have to include all unavoidable charges. This means that Rynair won’t be able to advertise a price that is only available to people who book with the seldom used Visa Electron or Ryanair’s own branded pre-payment card.
This investigation came about as a result of a campaign by Which?!?!?!, which saw Ryanair lambasting the magazine as a ‘useless and irrelevant “consumer magazine”‘ that was bought by ‘less than one man and his dog’. In a typically irritating press release at the time, Ryanair said: ‘Before making “Super Duper Complaints” the clueless clowns at ‘Which, Who or What’ magazine, should conduct some basic research. Ryanair does not levy any credit or debit card payment “surcharges”. Even our administration fee is avoidable by passengers who use our recommended MasterCard Prepaid,’ adding; “If it wasn’t for dentist waiting rooms or doctors’ surgeries it is doubtful whether anyone even reads the useless and frequently inaccurate “Which, Who or What’ magazine”.”
Alas, it turns out that the OFT read Which?????!!!!! and have now slapped Ryanair’s legs for ’engaging in prohibited unfair commercial practices’, as well as committing ‘breaches of professional diligence’ and breaking airline regulations that require flight prices to be presented inclusive of all unavoidable charges.
You remember a little while ago how that annoying Irish* airline owner was thinking of introducing a fat tax to charge the overweight more for their seat on a plane? At the time, said airline suggested that 30% of the people they asked were in favour of a charge, which is roughly the same proportion of people in the UK who are not classed as overweight**.
However, a new survey from HolidayExtras.com has reposed the question and found that the balance may be tipping in favour of a fat flight tax. 48% of respondents said they were now in favour of the tax, and over half (51%) of men questioned think a fat tax is fair.
Some proponents of the charge think it should be based on weight, as additional weight will require more fuel, thereby costing the airlines more to cover the same distance. Poor lambs. Others, however, suggest that the tax should only be levied on people who cannot fit into the airline seat without trespassing on their neighbour’s seating region. While the former could be regulated by requiring passengers to stand on a large set of speak-your-weight scales, the latter could prove even more amusing by watching people trying to squish themselves into a seat shaped size gauge. Or not. Might need to have a couple of spares and some Vaseline handy in case of wedging.
James Lewis, Head of Online Partnerships at HolidayExtras.com, said: “The world is getting fatter – and this is becoming a big issue. Being an overweight passenger affects your travelling companions, physically and financially. If we have to pay extra for excess baggage, it’s only fair that we pay extra for excessive body weight.
“Sitting next to a large person on a plane can sometimes reduce the space that you have to relax, so maybe airlines should offer some of the revenue from the additional ticket cost to the person sitting next to the fat person too.”
So, given that Bitterwallet reads are all lithe, toned males, what do you think about it all? Should we have a blanket weight tax or a size tax? Or should the skinny idiots who thought up this whole idea just naff off and be forcefed biscuits?
* he’s not necessarily annoying because he’s Irish, but he is annoying and he is Irish. Bit like Michael Flatley.
** in 2009 the estimated proportion was 39.9%, and we are getting fatter.
Thomas Cook cabin crew are threatening to go on strike following after talks cooled with management over redundancy packages.
It is estimated that 1,300 of the holiday company’s 1,800 cabin crew will vote next week on whether to take industrial action.
How does that affect you? Well, the airports that will be hit include Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Midlands Gatwick, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle, and Stansted.
Unite, representing the cabin crewers, say that nearly 500 jobs are set to be given the chop, but alas, they’ve been unable to agree redundancy terms with management, who, they say, ‘point blank refused’ its offer of two weeks per year redundancy pay.
In a statement, Unite regional officer Mick Whitley said: “The company was only interested in putting in place the building blocks for voluntary and compulsory redundancies.”
“This has left Unite with no other alternative but to suspend the consultation talks and hold a consultative ballot with the Unite membership at Thomas Cook. The ballot will be conducted within the next week to gauge the feeling of our members.”
“We are completely against the redundancy terms and any compulsory redundancies purely to make more profit. The group has made £320m this year and is paying out a fortune in bonuses and dividends, as well as sponsoring the Olympics.”
Thomas Cook recently announced that they’ll be cutting costs by removing six long-haul aircraft by the end of the year, axing 250 jobs in the Thomas Cook Airlines staff at Manchester Airport and closing 24 of their shops across the UK.
In short, it’s not a bad idea to choose a different company to go on holiday with while they sort this mess out.
Sometimes you don’t make your plane. Sometimes it’s because you overslept (me), perhaps you have lost your passport (my brother), or maybe there is some other equally fascinating reason why you didn’t actually take off. If it’s your fault, it is unlikely you will be able to claim a refund, unless you have some pretty hefty travel insurance, right?
Well, actually, as we all know, particularly those who use our favourite Irish based airline, quite often the lion’s share of the fee can be made up of ‘taxes and charges’, the taxes part of this comprising Air Passenger Duty (APD). Now, in much the same way as VAT, the airline collects APD from you and pays it over to the Government periodically once the charging point has passed. The charging point being the moment you step on a plane*. Clearly, then, if you don’t board your plane, the airline automatically refunds the APD you paid as part of your ticket price, right?
Of course they don’t. They pocket the cash as a nice little earner- Which! estimate that Ryanair alone made over £5,000,000 out of this little scam alone in 2003.
Now the Air Travel Advisory Bureau (ATAB) are launching a petition to reclaim these taxes from the airline. The first step is to inform people of the scam, something we at Bitterwallet are more than happy to help with, but the second is to stamp out airlines’ ludicrous ‘administration charges’ that quite often wipe out any APD repayment due. Funny that.
APD was introduced back in 1994 and the current rates are £12, £60, £75 or £90 per outward (ie from the UK) flight depending on whether your destination is up to 2,000 miles away, 2,000-4,000 miles, 4,000 to 6,000 miles or over 6,000 miles away. The rates are doubled if you fly anything other than the cheapest available class.
Head of Research for Which! Travel, Rochelle Turner, said “Airlines should not be the automatic beneficiary of any unclaimed APD, and any administration fees that put people off claiming back the APD are unfair. We want to see all airlines either charge an appropriate fee for reclaiming the Air Passenger Duty on unused flights, or simply charge nothing at all.”
ATAB chairman Tony White said “It is a scandal that some airlines hang on to this money. It never belonged to them. It’s a tax collected on the behalf of the Government. With a couple of exceptions, most of the UK airlines make it as difficult as possible to get your money back. If you don’t actually fly, for whatever reason, you are entitled to get the APD refunded.”
Because the airlines don’t make it easy for you to reclaim your APD, ATAB have produced a very handy step-by-step guide to help you reclaim your taxes, and also ask you to sign a petition to outlaw ridiculous admin charges on refunds.
So go get ‘em, tigers.
* one that takes off, presumably.
The Office of Fair Trading has already proposed such an amendment to existing law but as yet the government have done nothing about it. The anger is focussed on debit card charges that only crop up at the end of a lengthy booking process. It has been shown that punters have to wade through between four and six pages of an online booking system before they are informed about the dreaded debit card charges.
The OFT ordered all companies to make their card charges more transparent back in June, but as yet they appear to have done little or nothing about it. In fact, Lufthansa and Swiss are planning to introduce £4.50 credit and debit card charges per booking from November.
Elsewhere, the OFT have found that Easyjet charged a surcharge of £8 for payments by debit card, and £8 plus 2.5% of the total transaction for credit card users. Ryanair charged a fee of £6 per journey for both credit and debit card users.
Can the consumer warriors at Which! succeed where the OFT seem to have failed? We’ll see, but we’ll be holding their coats for them as they head into battle.
Boarding planes is dull, but boarding big planes takes an eternity – you can sometimes be sat in your seat for an hour before the plane moves off from the gate. That said, airlines operating long flights with big planes aren’t in so much of a rush – crews must be rested and changed, and cleaning, catering and refuelling is a massive effort that takes time. Then there’s budget flights that hop between countries and can be turned round very quickly; their operators are always looking for efficiencies when preparing aircraft for flight.
So whether it’s in the interests of passenger comfort or profitability, will be an airline to take up the advice of Doctor Jason Steffen? More to the point, why should they listen to the opinions of an astrophysicist? Well, while waiting to board a flight in 2008, the good doctor started considering how airlines might board planes more efficiently. After all, most airlines will board from the back of the plane to the front, but that method still means lots of people vying for a limited amount of space in the cabin at the same time.
Others attempting to solve this problem had suggested boarding window seats first, but Dr Steffen suggested boarding in alternate rows, window seats first, from the rear forward, then filling the middle and aisle seats in the same way. The theory was then put to the test with volunteers and a 757 – and Steffen’s suggestion meant the plane was boarded nearly twice as quickly as block boarding, and took three quarters of the time that random boarding took.
With the likes of easyJet and Ryanair turning around flights within 30 minutes of reaching the gate, every minute counts. Applying the principle to an airbus could mean closing times for gates could be later, and less times waiting to the departure lounge. Will any airlines look to improve the efficiencies of their passengers next?
You’ve vented on Facebook, whined on about it on Twitter, and pissed and moaned to anyone else who’ll listen down the pub. For whatever reason, a bad experience with an airline is guaranteed to cause the red mist to descend.
We’ve just discovered airlinereviews.co.uk, and our desire to rant in despair means it’s probably going to do well. It’s a recently launched website with a very simple proposition – it lets you rate and review the service you received on a recent flight. It’s a TripAdvisor for airlines, and could in time prove a useful tool when deciding who to give your hard-earned cash to.
It’s early days, and there are a couple of tiny issues – some reviews appear to mark airlines down because of a negative experience dealt by the airport – but the results of this aggregation are already interesting. Emirates is proving to be the favourite airline of reviewers; even Ryanair has plenty of loyal supporters, although predictably there are a few who take issue:
Not a pleasant experience. Michael O’Leary is a truly intolerable man and my experience of his airline just reinforces this widely held view.
Last year, airlines and holiday makers alike suffered at the hands of Eyjafjallajokul, the Icelandic volcano that grounded thousands of flights across Europe. It caused no end of misery, ruined the summer for millions of holiday-makers and walloped the profit margins of the travel industry.
So just in time for this year’s summer, let’s hear it for Grimsvotn, the Icelandic volcano currently billowing millions of tonnes of ash into the sky! The cloud of ash is due to drift across parts of Northern Europe in the next 24 hours, before heading further south to France and Spain.
Before you break the news to the kids that you’ll be holidaying in Doncaster this year, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said that the situation is very different to that of 2010, due to new rules and regulations concerning flights through ash clouds. Airlines can now decide to fly or not if the Met Office deems an ash cloud to be low risk; if there are medium levels of ash, then CAA can decide whether to allow flights to go ahead.
That doesn’t mean the regulators of airspace in other countries will necessarily agree, but the general consensus seems to be that there was too much caution last year, and far less risk posed than believed at the time. We’ll find out what happens in the next day or so; the ash cloud from Grimsvotn is due to drift south across the sea between Iceland, Scotland and Ireland – typically the route of transatlantic flights.
You don’t? Let me explain.
You see, a recent consortium of assorted airline type folks wrote a letter to Mr George suggesting he abolish Air Passenger Duty (APD) completely on flights leaving the UK.
The twenty-five travel companies and organisations (including British Airways, Tui, Thomas Cook, Abta, BAA and Virgin Atlantic) think that abolishing APD, which has rocketed a whopping 325 per cent over the last six years, would not only help out our poor, long-suffering British families, but also improve the UK’s economic outlook, as the tax is putting people off flying and coming to the UK. Apparently a decrease in flight numbers has everything to do with the APD and nothing to do with the fact that no one has any money as we are in a recession.
The campaign has a catchy name (Fair Tax on Flying) and a whole lot of indignation behind it. Still if the issue was as burning in consumer minds as they would have us believe, perhaps they wouldn’t have needed to use such leading questions as this in their ‘impartial’ survey…
At present, the UK government collects Air Passenger Duty (APD) from every passenger flying through a UK airport. The amount of APD paid depends on the distance of the flight and whether you are travelling in economy or business class. As an example, a British family of four flying from a UK airport to Florida in economy class will pay £240 to the British government in flight tax. Do you think that this tax on flights is, too much, about right, not enough?”
But, perhaps you should be careful what you wish for. APD currently brings in an estimated £2.2 billion in tax- rising to £3.6 billion in 2015. Not an amount to be sniffed at. If the Chancellor were to abolish APD, he would have to make up that shortfall somewhere, or somehow, else. Where would you like to see £2.2 billion shaved? The NHS? Schools? Any remaining public services?
Of course, the alternative to cuts is to levy another form of taxation. Given the fair tax on flying alliance wants us to be fair, why not levy VAT and fuel duty on air travel from which air travel is currently excluded? After all, when we fill up at the pump we pay 58.95p per litre in fuel duty and then pay VAT on top. That would be fair, now wouldn’t it?
Fair, but astonishingly expensive. Would you rather pay £12 per person to fly to Barcelona or the tax on the 1414 mile round trip- at 100 miles per gallon (4.55 litres) per person, that’s a measly £37.92 in fuel duty and £7.58 in VAT on the fuel duty. That’s almost four times as much wonga out of your pocket (because you can be sure the airlines won’t shoulder the cost), not taking into account the VAT on the cost of the fuel itself. And don’t even bother thinking of flying to Australia…
Besides, we all know that the ‘taxes’ part of the ‘fees,taxes and charges’ added on by airlines when trying to book their £1 flights to Los Angeles is only a very small proportion- can you really see the bucket airlines passing the whole saving on? Perhaps they would have a new ‘non-accounting for non-tax’ charge instead?
All in all, if I were a member of the consortium, I would stop and think how good I actually have it. Besides, surely the people lobbying should be the passengers, after all, we are the ones who are paying the levy in increased air fares.