Month: September 2015

Let them eat Cake!!!!

Emirates has come under fire for offering a cake as compensation to an elderly disabled passenger who was left without a wheelchair at Hong Kong airport and had to struggle to make her own way to arrivals.

Marian Robinson, 77, and her husband Herbert, 79, (pictured here) flew with Emirates last week from London to Hong Kong, via Dubai, to visit their daughter, Lindsey Gordon.

Mr Robinson had pre-booked wheelchair assistance for his wife, who cannot walk more than a few steps unaided due to several illnesses.

Although a wheelchair was provided for the Dubai stop-over, there was no wheelchair on arrival in Hong Kong.

“They waited on the aircraft until they were told to get off, then they waited outside the aircraft and nobody came,” explained their daughter.

“The captain kindly tried to help and asked a passing porter to assist, but he declined. I was waiting at arrivals for over two hours, terrified that they had somehow been stranded in Dubai.

“Eventually, after much trauma, they managed to find their way through the airport and I found them in the middle of the concourse more than two hours after the aircraft landed. There were severely traumatised and confused as to what had happened.”

When Mrs Gordon complained to the airline, requesting that her parents could perhaps be upgraded on their return journey by way of compensation, she received an email from customer services saying this wasn’t possible due to policy.

Instead, she was told: “We can surely book a complimentary cake for them. Let me know if I should book the cake for them?”

Mrs Gordon said she was shocked by the response.

“I hardly think a cake makes up for what my parents went through, and the real issue is that nobody explained why the wheelchair wasn’t provided and they still haven’t. Mum and dad had been travelling for a total of 20 hours. My mum can only walk a few steps, even with a walking stick, so it was a massive effort for her to get from the aircraft to the arrivals hall which is quite a distance and involves a train and several escalators.

“To make matter worse, when my parents checked in for the return flight I told them what had happened on the inward journey and the check-in clerk laughed. I had to inform her that it wasn’t actually funny.”

Emirates said it was investigating the case and issued an apology.

“Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of Emirates Flight Crew to help Mr and Mrs Robinson on the ground, adequate assistance from the Hong Kong airport wheelchair handling team did not materialise in time. This service is operated by third parties on behalf of all airlines,” it added.

“The comfort and safety of our passengers is our priority, and we are truly sorry that we did not meet Mr and Mrs Robinson’s requirements  on this occasion. Our Customer Services team in Dubai made sure that the wheelchair assistance was provided for their return journey.

“We take all complaints very seriously and are currently investigating Mr and Mrs Robinson’s case to establish how this may have happened.”

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JetBlue to help develop hotel at JFK’s iconic TWA terminal

TWA-Flight-Center_JFK-Airport_New-York-City_Untapped-Cities-36

The iconic TWA Terminal at New York JFK Airport is finally to get a new lease of life as a hotel, with a little help from New York based JetBlue Airways.

JetBlue has teamed up with MCR Development to build the on-site airport hotel close to JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK and will be the only hotel within the airport.

The hotel is slated for a 2018 opening and the long closed TWA Terminal will form the new hotel lobby.

The $265 million project will feature 505 rooms, 40,000 square feet of meeting space, several restaurants and an observation deck.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates JFK, is expected to approve the plan this week.

“We are thrilled the TWA Flight Center will come alive again. As New York’s Hometown Airline, we are proud to be a minority investor in MCR’s plan, which celebrates the landmark’s rich history while returning it to public use,” said Rich Smyth, vice president of corporate real estate at JetBlue.

“We want to thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership in supporting our long-held belief that the TWA terminal can viably be restored and re-opened.”

This will be the second hotel project for JetBlue.

The carrier opened boutique hotel The Lodge at OSC in Orlando earlier this year, which is not open to the public and is used as a base for new recruit orientation.

The incredible shrinking hotel room

Hotels are thinking big by going as small as they can.

Independent hoteliers to big-name brands like Marriott are getting into the “micro-hotel” trend. The hotels have tiny rooms — think as small as 50 square feet — but big public spaces that appeal to social travelers.

“It is a slightly literal example of the ‘living like a local’ trend — where an apartment is often just a place to sleep, and the public spaces are where one spends the majority of their time,” says Gray Shealy, executive director of the Master’s of Hospitality Management Program at Georgetown University.

Micro-hotels first popped up in urban centers such as Japan and New York Citywhere real estate is particularly expensive. Packing more rooms into a property made financial sense.

In the USA, micro-hotel chains such as Pod, Yotel and CitizenM are expanding to other cities like Miami, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. These are destinations where travelers tend to look for great value and smart design.

Modus Hotels, a Washington, D.C.-based hospitality company, plans to open a Pod Hotel and the Hotel Hive, both micro-hotels, next year in the nation’s capital. Marriott will introduce 10 Moxy hotels next year in major metropolitan locations such as New Orleans, Chicago, Seattle and San Diego. Commune Hotels and Resorts will launch its micro-hotel brand tommie early next year in New York City, with other domestic and international destinations to follow.

“These are hotels in every city that are 1) unusual, 2) reasonably-priced, and 3) cater to modern, working, frequent travelers,” says Garth Holsinger, who has stayed at Yotels many times.

The micro-hotels are particularly appealing to Millennial travelers, who are starting to travel more and spend more.

“We are focused on the Millennial-minded consumer, with an emphasis on style, attitude and design at an economical value,” says Vicki Poulos, global brand director for Moxy.

Some travelers don’t necessarily agree that the comfort level equals that of regular hotels, but room rates can make staying at micro-hotels worthwhile.

“At first, it is entirely novel,” says Diana Edelman, who writes a travel blog called d travels ’round and stayed at the Yotel at London’s Gatwick airport. “But then reality hits that it is nearly impossible to open a suitcase in the room without hitting your head on the bed’s ‘roof’ or that you are showering next to the toilet and sink.”

“The room is tiny,” she says. “And I mean tiny, so for people who don’t like small spaces, it can be claustrophobic.”

USA TODAY took a look at a few micro-hotels in New York. Here’s what we found.

Pod Hotels

Hoteliers Richard Born and Ira Drukier introduced the micro-hotel trend to New York City in 2007 with the debut of Pod 51 in Midtown East. Pod 39 opened in June 2012 with a rooftop lounge, a communal play room where guests can engage in ping pong matches, and a Salvation Taco restaurant that on an early Friday evening drew as many or more young locals as guests. Pod 51 has an outdoor garden area and weekly happy hours.

“My target audience when we built it was the very next stage after you build a youth hostel,” Born says.

Rates start at $89, a mere fraction of what hotel rooms in New York normally cost. The smallest room is 72 square feet. The largest is 200 square feet.

Some rooms have bunk beds, each with their own plugs and TVs with headsets that were made for airplanes. Cubby holes provide storage space.

“It’s designed for intelligent people who understand the quality of design of the room and avail themselves of the technology,” Born says. “The rooms are very well thought-out meaning there’s a space to put your bag, there’s a space to put your things, there’s a plug wherever you want to plug in your device.”

The Jane

Once home to survivors of the Titanic, this hotel in the West Village feels more like a cruise ship or a train with sleeper cabins. Rooms have single beds or bunk beds.

In the rooms with bunk beds, “there’s two of everything: two TVs, two waters, two bathrobes, two slippers,” says Courtney Garron, a manager at the hotel.

Guests staying in the smallest room, the 50-square-foot Standard Cabin, share communal bathrooms.

There are built-in drawers and a luggage rack, but Garron acknowledges that sometimes people traveling with too much run out of space.

“We hold people’s bags,” she says.

The Standard and Bunk Cabins are 7 feet long and the beds are around 6 feet long, large enough for an average-sized person but perhaps a tight fit for someone taller.

Larger Captain’s Cabins with their own bathrooms are available as well. And with prices starting at $99 a night, upgrading to the larger cabin would still run you less than a regular hotel nearby.

An historic ballroom with a bar, lounge and mezzanine plus a rooftop with views of the Hudson River provide entertainment for those who want to get out of their rooms.

Yotel

In addition to the Yotel New York, travelers can try out this micro-hotel in London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports. Expansion plans are in the works for Boston, Brooklyn, San Francisco, Miami, Dubai and Singapore.

The smallest room, found at the airport locations, is 75 square feet. Rates at the New York location average around $200. Travelers can book at the airport locations in four-hour blocks.

With rooms that small, some features have to be customized. Yotel recently introduced the adjustable “SmartBed by YOTEL” created in partnership with Serta. Think of a Barcalounger for beds. Guests can convert the bed into a sofa for TV watching or working on their laptops.

Having trouble sleeping? The Yotel channel broadcasts a “Yawn” video to help induce sleep. The bizarre video of a man yawning is effective at making viewers want to close their eyes.

And in a nod to how important technology is to the modern-day traveler, the Yotel New York has a YOBOT on full display. The automated luggage storage and retrieval facility provides entertainment while taking care of luggage.

CitizenM

Rooms at CitizenM in Manhattan’s Theater District feature interesting technology such as a digital artwork display that lets guests select whichever contemporary piece of art they want to stare at.

Samsung touch-screen MoodPads control the TV, music, window blinds, temperature and alarm. Wi-Fi is complimentary.

All rooms at CitizenM are 170 square feet, and each has a king-sized bed that is about 6′ 6” long. Rates start at $199 in New York.

There are five European properties in addition to the New York CitizenM. Plans are in the works to open more in the United Kingdom, France, Taiwan and USA.

“Our travelers appreciate an inspiring environment, a place where they really connect to the atmosphere, a great sleep experience … without having to pay the high rates of a typical boutique hotel,” says Noreen Chadha, commercial director, USA, for CitizenM.

Yet the New York property has the vibe of a boutique hotel. A hip bar plays curated music. A shop features books by Mendo, a popular Dutch store. And a rooftop bar called Cloud Bar has a fireplace and outdoor terrace. For now, it’s only open to guests.

Moxy

Marriott’s brand for Millennials debuted in September 2014 with the opening of the Moxy Milan. More than 150 properties will be added to the collection in the next 10 years.

What can guests expect when Moxy finally arrives in the USA next year?

Public spaces with four zones: a welcome area, library and plug-in area, food and beverage outlets, and lounges.

Bedrooms, on average 186 square feet, have an open storage concept with a peg wall. A platform bed has “underbed” motion sensor lighting. The bathroom has a one-compartment layout with a shower and vanity.

There’s free Wi-Fi and keyless entry with your mobile phone.

Guests can buy food at Moxy’s 24/7 self-service station. The bar is full-service.

The Guestbook is a digital platform that collects stories, pictures, and videos from travelers. They are broadcast on the website, Instagram and on hotel screens.

Airbus files patent for supersonic jet that could fly from San Francisco to Paris in three hours

Photo: United States Patent 9,079,661 B2

Airbus has filed a patent for a supersonic aircraft that flies twice as fast as the Concorde and could get you from Tokyo to Los Angeles or San Francisco to Paris in a ridiculous three hours, or roughly the time that it currently takes to fly from San Francisco to Dallas. The unnamed “ultra rapid air vehicle” would flat-out blow your eyebrows back, as it could reach speeds that range from Mach 4 to Mach 4.5 – more than four times the speed of sound – a speedometer reading that makes the Concorde seem sluggish by comparison.

The jet would have three different kinds of engines, each that would be active during different parts of the flight. As explained by Deepak Gupta, the Patent Yogi, the two turbojets would propel the aircraft during taxiing and takeoff and then would retract into the fuselage before the rocket engine (yes, this plane has a rocket engine) would propel it in a “near vertical” flight path. After the plane reached an altitude of 30,000 to 35,000 meters (98,425 to 114,829 feet), the rocket engine would also retract into the fuselage and it would be propelled horizontally by the two wing-mounted ramjets.

According to the patent application, the designers see the jet being used for both civil or military applications. “In the case of civil applications, the market envisaged is principally that of business travelers and VIP passengers who require transcontinental journeys within one day,” the designers wrote. And that’s patent-speak for “There’s no way you could afford one of the 20 seats on this jet, so don’t get your hopes up.”

If it were to enter service as a military plane, the designers envision it being used to conduct surveillance missions, to transport “high added-value goods” or to carry out precision missile strikes. Although there’s a reasonably good chance this plane won’t be developed beyond these drawings, it has been designed to reduce the sonic boom and environmental impact that prevented the Concorde from ever operating over land. “This noise,” the patent application says “has been the main limit preventing the opening of lines other than transatlantic ones for the Concorde aircraft.” Because this futuristic jet would be launched vertically like a space shuttle, the sound energy generated would travel parallel to the earth, preventing the molar-rattling bang that other craft produce when they break the sound barrier.

And now that three-hour flight to Dallas seems way less impressive.

Air India allegedly grounds 130 flight attendants for being too fat

Tawheed Manzoor/Flickr

The golden age of flying may be long in the past, but at least we’ve also seen the end of days when flight attendants are judged on their bodies, right? Well, not exactly.

According to the Telegraph, this week Air India dismissed 130 cabin crew duty for having body mass index (BMI) levels beyond “normal.” For Air India, a “normal” BMI for a female flight attendant is between 18 and 22, and 18 to 25 for a man, which is more or less the same assessment as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This move did not come out of the blue. About six months ago, the directorate-general of civil aviation asked domestic airlines in May 2014 to classify flight attendants into three categories: normal, overweight, and obese. Shortly after, 600 flight attendants were warned six months ago to lose weight or lose their jobs in the cabin. This also isn’t the first time Air India has done this, having removed 10 flight attendants in 2009 for the same issue.

The fact that the majority of flight attendants are women is not lost on anyone, and charges of sexism are flying, as well as accusations that airline is setting a rigid aesthetic standard. Mark Martin, an aviation industry consultant, put it bluntly to the Telegraph India:

“This move to impose a certain BMI, ignoring experience and other performance parameters, is immature, misogynistic and shockingly sexist.”

Air India, however, says it’s an issue of safety, saying:

“People who are fitter can respond quicker and more efficiently in case of any untoward situation.”

While that might be true in some situations, having a high BMI does not always mean you are overweight. Muscle is heavier than fat, so very fit people could actually score high.

Plus, while I can’t speak for everyone, I tend to judge flight attendants more on efficiency, responsiveness, energy, stress tolerance, compassion, understanding, communication, sensibility, and professionalism, to name a few.

Air India is hardly the only airline to impose physical restrictions on flight attendants. .Until recently, Qatar Airways could fire flight attendants who get pregnant or married (now they can take temporary ground jobs). Airlines like United also have minimum and maximum height requirements (5 feet 2 inches to 6 feet). SkyWest requires all tattoos to be hidden (“visible tattoo locations include, but are not limited to, hands, arms, neck, face, legs and feet”). China Southern Airlines perhaps has the most bizarre rule — that flight attendants’ legs cannot be “X or O shaped,” and the airline holds beauty pageants to find male and female crew members.

Road Warrior Voices has reached  out to Air India and will update when we get a response.

NY Drivers licenses wont be valid for domestic travel in 2016

Photo: Ryan McFarland on Flickr

If you have a Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire or New York driver’s license you’ll need a second form of ID to get past TSA as soon as the start of next year.

Back at the end of December 2013, the Department of Homeland Security announced the arrival of the Real ID Act, which set federal security standards for government-issued IDs. About 70-80% of existing U.S. driver’s licenses already met those standards. But driver’s licenses from the four aforementioned states did not, and so were deemed “non-compliant.”

The act has been enforced in phases over the past couple years, and the government has now reached the final phase, which is the aircraft phase. Fliers who could previously breeze through security with their licenses from those non-compliant states will need to provide a second form of identification, such as a passport, once the Real ID Act is fully implemented and enforced. This will happen “no sooner than in 2016.” (All accepted ID options are listed here.)

New York media has been reporting that the NY state driver’s license will be rendered invalid as a form of ID for flying in 2016. But a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson informed us there were “no announcements” yet about when this final phase would be fully rolled out.

Official DOH literature says:

“DHS will ensure the public has ample advance notice before identification requirements for boarding aircraft change. That notice will include information on the process for individuals with a non-compliant driver’s license or identification card to be able to travel by aircraft.”

For now, it’s unclear exactly when this will happen or how people will be alerted. But if you’re from one of the non-compliant states and have any flights set for 2016, you might want to plan to bring a passport.

WOW Air once again offering dirt cheap transatlantic flights

Photo credit, WOW Air

Make no mistake about it: this is no mistake airfare. The recently announced sale from Iceland’s low-fare WOW Air will surely leave you saying “wow” once you reach the checkout page on the budget airline’s website. Airfare between its U.S. destinations of Baltimore/Washington and Boston to London Gatwick are as low as $150 each way, including taxes.

Budgeteers willing to eat before the flight, travel light, and risk the wrath of being assigned a middle seat are in luck. Food on board, checked baggage, and seat assignments (including the option to block the middle seat next to you) all raise the needle on the overall price.

Travel with your own entertainment since this no-frills airline won’t ply you with free cocktails or the latest Hollywood flick. Flights connect through the airline’s hub in Reykjavik with just over an hour of ground time, but for flyers crammed into WOW’s tight, all-economy class seating that might be a welcome stop for a leg stretch. The deal is available on the airline’s website for travel between October 1 and December 15 and between January 10 and March 10. Since this is a one-way fare sale price, it is available in either direction whether starting in the U.S. or London.

This isn’t the first time the airline has offered cheap transatlantic fares — most recently WOW offered $99 one-way fares to Paris and Amsterdam, but the cheapest tickets were snagged up almost as soon as they went on sale, so don’t wait if you want any chance at scoring round trip tickets as low as $300.

WOW Air has an expanding network across Europe, giving U.S.-based travelers numerous options to fly abroad for cheap. Unlike Icelandair, Wow Air does not offer a free stopover in Iceland, so those wishing to take a dip in the Blue Lagoon or visit one of the island’s famous volcanoes will have to put those plans on hold.

Even if flying further afield from London, this discount airfare pairs perfectly with the variety of low-fare carriers that fly from London Gatwick airport. Just be sure to pack light as the meager carry-on allowance for WOW Air weighs in at a wimpy 11 pounds.

10 dirty little secrets of frequent-flier programs

Is there anyone reading this who isn’t involved with at least one frequent-flier program? Didn’t think so. Frequent-flier miles are embedded in our DNA. We struggle to acquire them through flying, through credit cards and through any promotion we can find. We boast about the “free” trips we get. And we keep coming back for more.

But many of us are getting a bit more savvy — maybe cynical is a better word — about frequent-flier programs. We’re developing a sense that they aren’t really as helpful as when we first enrolled. That the deck is stacked against us and the stack keeps getting higher. And there’s plenty of evidence to support our cynicism.

Occasional and somewhat-frequent leisure travelers may get hit the worst, but a word of warning to all you road warriors: Don’t be too smug about your insider tricks and tips for gaming the system. The airlines have stacked the deck against you, too — and the house always wins.

It’s the most one-sided contract you’ll ever make

When you enroll in a frequent-flier program and hit that “agree” button, the fine print you commit to is the most one-sided contract you’ll ever enter.

Yes, those frequent-flier contracts are even worse than wireless phone or cable TV contracts. You agree that the airline can change the rules any time it wants without any input from you. One-sided contracts are called contracts of adhesion, and frequent-flier contracts are the super glue of adhesion contracts.

The airline actually owns ‘your’ miles

The worst of the one-sided provisions is that you don’t even own “your” miles — the airline owns them. That’s true even though it regularly offers incentives for you to “buy” miles it “sells” you.

In most real-life situations, “buy” and “sell” strongly imply change of ownership, but not with frequent-flier miles. That means you can’t transfer them to anyone else (without paying a fee of more than the miles are worth). On some airlines, you can’t even bequeath them to a surviving spouse.

And if you do something the airline doesn’t like — repeated use of hidden-city or throw-away ticketing, for example — it can nuke your miles and kick you out of the program.

Most big airline programs favor business travelers

Frequent-flier programs are called “loyalty” programs, but some loyalties are better than others. Big airlines know that they get something like 80% of their revenue from about 20% of their customers (or close to that; I’ve seen various estimates within that range). The 20% consists mainly of frequent business traveler “road warriors” who travel a lot and pay top dollar for tickets, so their loyalty is vitally important.

On the other hand, airlines also know that a large percentage of their lowest-fare tickets are bought by leisure travelers who choose the cheapest available flight, and the airline’s view of them is “loyalty, shmoyalty.”

‘Free’ trips are hard to score

A study by IdeaWorks found that reward-seat availability for major North American airlines ranged from highs of 100% for Southwest, 91% on Air Canada, 87% onJetBlue, and 80% on Alaska; to 75% on United, 67% on American, and a dismal 58% on perennially low-scoring Delta.

In isolation, those figures aren’t bad, but they overstate the real-world situation. They cover direct domestic flights in coach/economy between large airports. Real-world experience suggests that success rates are much lower in business/first class, especially on intercontinental trips, and on connecting-flight awards with decent itineraries.

Awards are often hidden

On airline websites, award travel on “partner” airlines is sometimes hidden and not displayed. Also, miles required for a seat on any given flight may vary depending on which airline’s program booking engines is used.

Often, the only way to get a straight answer is to call an airline’s frequent-flier office. And even then, you may get incorrect information. If an agent says “no” to a request, you may do well by calling back a few minutes later and talking to another agent.

The fees are outrageous

Years ago, once you had an award ticket issued, you could change flights and dates as often as you needed, provided only that the origin and destination remained the same and space on your preferred flights was available. That’s no longer true. Now, even a minor change invites a change fee of $75 to $150; you even have to pay up to $75 to change to a different flight on the day of travel. And if you cancel the trip completely, you have to pay up to $150 to redeposit the miles in your account.

These fees are nothing but gouges, pure and simple. If anything, they’re even bigger gouges than change fees for purchased tickets. With purchased tickets, airlines can at least claim an “opportunity cost,” but changing a frequent-flier award costs an airline virtually nothing. After all, the seats are on a “space available” basis.

The fuel surcharges are crazy, too

International award trips on most airlines based outside the U.S. (including even Air Canada) aren’t really “free” any more: Most of those airlines impose a stiff “fuel surcharge” or an “airline-imposed fee,” which is just a fuel surcharge in disguise, on award travel.

For the most part, airlines based in the U.S. do not impose those fees, even when trips are on a foreign partner airline, but American socks award travel on partnerBritish Airways with the fees. Those charges vary from a few hundred dollars to close to a thousand dollars on a premium class trip.

Fortunately, U.S. airlines do not impose those fees on domestic awards. At least not yet. But remember a basic rule of the airline business: Nothing catches on faster than a bad idea.

Miles aren’t worth their asking price

Most independent observers place the value of airline frequent-flier mile at somewhere around a penny or a penny-and-a-half per mile. Presumably that’s close to the price airlines get when they sell miles to banks for inclusion in credit card programs. But when they try to sell miles to you, the big airlines charge more than three cents — about two to three times what the miles are worth. They even charge up to one-and-a-half cents per mile to transfer miles you’ve already earned or bought.

You’re better off buying a coach seat than using miles

If you generate most of your miles through a credit card, you’re often better off buying a domestic coach ticket. These days, you can buy a round-trip ticket on most routes within the continental U.S. for less than $500. A long-haul trip generally requires at least 25,000 frequent-flier miles, so you’d have to charge $25,000 on your card to earn those miles. But some high-payout credit cards earn two miles per dollar charged, so $25,000 worth of charges would give you $500 cash back, enough to buy a ticket without worrying about award-seat availability.

Overall, the “highest and best” use of miles is for premium cabin travel. The cash prices for those tickets are out of sight, so, for many, frequent-flier miles are the only escape from the cattle car into a comfortable flight. But if you’re a more typical coach/economy flier, you are often better off buying a ticket and conserving miles for occasions when they’re the best option.

Elite status isn’t what it used to be

For road warriors, the most important frequent-flier reward is not so much the miles as it is the elite status that provides special check-in lanes, reduced baggage fees, and — most importantly — space-available no-charge upgrades. But even that benefit is eroding.

Airlines are handing out elite status to more and more travelers, while they cut back on the number of first-class seats on typical domestic flights. These days, just about any departure gate with a display screen lists far more travelers eligible for upgrades than available upgrade seats. Only the super-platinum types can count on an upgrade; for the others, it’s a crapshoot.

Passenger group calls for minimum seat size

A US-based passenger rights group is calling on authorities to ban airlines from further reducing the size of seats on planes.

FlyersRights.org says the diminishing size of seats and shrinking legroom has become an ‘intolerable situation’ for passengers.

It has asked the Federal Aviation Administration, which has similar powers to the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK, to block any further downsizing.

The group has delivered a petition with more than 30,000 signatures to FAA chief Michael Huerta asking for minimum standards for legroom and seat width.

“The shrinkage of seats and passenger space by airlines to generate higher profits while the size of passengers has substantially increased has created an intolerable crisis situation,”  the petition said.

“It is threatening the health, safety and comfort of all passengers.”

The FAA responded by saying the petition would be assessed in ‘an appropriate time frame.’

There are no rules governing standards for seat legroom or width by the U.S. Department of Transportation, or in the UK for that matter,  only that passengers have sufficient room to quickly evacuate in an emergency situation.

A Transportation Department advisory committee met last week to discuss consumer issues in commercial aviation but did not address the size of seating, only urging airlines to disclose seat dimensions at point of sale.

One committee member Charles Leocha supports the petition and pointed to a government directive that regulates minimum space requirements for dogs travelling on airplanes but not humans.

“I was very disappointed that we didn’t come up with a committee recommendation on personal space on aircraft,” Leocha said.

The airline industry trade group Airlines for America rejected the idea and said government action is unnecessary.

“We believe that government should not regulate airline seat sizes, but instead market forces and competition should determine what is offered,” said A4A spokeswoman Jean Medina.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015