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Friday 22 October, 2004 


Good afternoon

The government is considering extending the provision that compels airlines to assist stranded travelers if another airline closes down and ceases flying.

The current legislation, requiring airlines to transport such people at a cost of no more than $25 for space available travel, is set to expire on 19 November.  Senators Frist (R-TN) and Wyden (D-OR) introduced legislation to extend this requirement, and we certainly support this.

The current likelihood of airlines ceasing operation seems strong, and a $25 payment for space available travel is fair both to the traveler and the airline accommodating them (it costs less than $25 to fill a seat that would otherwise be empty).

Unsurprisingly, the major airlines oppose this extension, although they're not slow to take our taxpayer's money whenever it suits them.  They've garnered an ally in Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) who is aggressively fighting against extending this legislation.

Sen Lautenberg claims this legislation is merely an attempt by credit card companies to avoid their liability for refunding tickets if an airline goes bankrupt.  This is, regrettably, a nonsense claim on his part - if you're stuck with a useless return half of a $200 ticket, needing to fly home again, the last thing you want is a $100 refund and then be compelled to pay $1000 for a walk-up one way fare on another airline.

Please urgently call your two senators and also Sen Lautenberg's office to express your support for the Frist-Wyden Amendment to protect passengers on bankrupt airlines.  And tell Sen Lautenberg you don't want a refund on part or all of a ticket, you want to be flown as originally booked for no more than $25 extra each way.  What he is proposing would cost you a great deal more (of course, which is why the major airlines don't want this legislation extended).  The airlines make money with a $25 fee; they're just being greedy and wanting to make even more.

You can telephone the Senate switchboard at (800)839-5276.

The matter is coming to a vote any day now.  Please call today or Monday and make your voice heard.

Until next week, or any other political crisis, please enjoy safe travels

              David M Rowell aka The Travel Insider

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