Top Six Reasons to Fly on Your Summer Vacation Travels

Would you get on a plane for a pizza? Okay, let me put it this way: how about if your pizza comes with a tasty side of “fewer fees”?

I’d say that’s a good reason to get on a plane, and I’ve got others, too. And I’m not even counting airfare even though there are some good deals out there (and the easiest way to find them is to shop for airline tickets on Tuesday afternoons – while remembering that the cheapest day to fly domestically is Wednesday).

What else? Well, some airlines are being a bit more generous to us passengers – and I also want to tell you about Iron Man and how he’s helping out us passengers, too – so let’s get started, shall we?

Six Good Reasons to Get on a Plane This Summer

1. The Pizza Solution

Last month, when the pilot of a storm-diverted Southwest plane noted that the airport in Pueblo, Colorado was closed, he got on the phone to Little Caesars. Within minutes, forty pizzas were delivered to the plane (and shared with two other diverted carriers).

Delta once held a similar airline pizza party but that was years ago. I think we’ll see more of this kind of “customer service”. The airlines know passengers are unhappy, and a gesture like this is cheap – but the goodwill it engenders is priceless.

Just don’t eat too much pizza; you don’t want Southwest to suddenly determine that you’re “too fat to fly”, do you?

2. More Cash for Bumping

The Dept. of Transportation wants to up the cash payouts for passengers who’ve been bumped from planes against their will and I think that’s a great idea. If approved, compensation rates would jump up from between $400 and $800, to between $650 to $1,300 ( the amount depends on how long the flight lasts).

Even better, this compensation rate – which in the past has rarely changed – would be adjusted for inflation every two years and the cash option must be disclosed to those that are offered a voucher to “volunatarily” be bumped. I like that.

3. Iron Man to the Rescue

Iron Man is my new nickname for Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood who often acts like a super hero. For instance, he didn’t wait around for a passenger’s bill of rights, he acted – which is why we have the new “3 Hour Rule” which went into effect in April. No longer will airlines trap people in planes on tarmacs for hours – unless they’re willing to pay a fine of $27,500 per passenger.

Not to mention a raft of newly proposed passenger centric rules requiring airline disclosure on price, bumping, full ticket prices and more.

Meanwhile, LaHood and the FAA have been pushing hard for NextGen GPS technology – and finally, better equipment – and a higher level of safety - will start to come to the nation’s air traffic control towers.

4. Airline Fees: Going Down

Unfortunately, we’re not seeing bag fees going down (though you can make them disappear on some airlines with the right credit card), but other airline fees have been lowered or dropped.

Frontier, for instance, ditched it $25 “reservations by phone” fee and cut the price of its $100 reservations “change fee” in half.

At Delta, a break for frequent fliers: the carrier will no longer charge that hefty $150 fee to redeem award tickets for travel plans made within three weeks of the departure date.

Spoiling the fun:  Europe’s Ryanair is bucking this trend, and raising fees on first and second checked bags during the busy summer season. Pack light.

5. Airline On-Time Rates: Going Up

Great news from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics: the airlines reported an overall increase in their on-time rates for April – and they beat the rates in March, and the rates of a year ago.

One more thing: fewer flights were sitting on the tarmac for hours and hours, as well. I guess that 3 Hour Rule is making a difference. Thanks, Iron Man.

6. Airport Security: The TSA is Trying

Well, they don’t always succeed but they had no trouble finding that loaded semi-automatic gun in a Delta flight attendant’s carryon bag last week. Kudos to the TSA officers at Indianapolis Inbternational. You deserve a pizza.


Published: June 9, 2010