Archive for April, 2008

It is your money! I really need to revisit this new $25 fee airlines are imposing for a second bag checked and I am furious for you and you should be too!!

Posted on April 30, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The more and more I think about his fee that is being imposed on you to check a second bag, the angrier I get. I am actually a very gentle man with a very hard to pull trigger to set me off. I can even have someone cut me off on the road and not get upset but just wave and say “hey no problem.” This fee has me feeling very flushed and angry for you the air traveler.

This fee is something that can allow your trigger to be pulled and upset you. Let me explain my position once again to reiterate my stance on this fee.

First of all, baggage mishandles which means your luggage has been on the rise every year to new record levels since 2001. What does this mean to you? More time lost, more frustrations to you and your family, more of the purpose of your trip ruined, lost property, business deals, frustrations, money lost, vacations upset and more.

Folks, I did not write my book The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage about this topic with the intention of making tons of money from it, but in fact wrote the book to turn the tide of this problem for so many. Now onto the $25 fee and why you have the right to be angry about this fee.

The airlines have to offset the soaring fuel prices and that is not an easy thing to do. If they raise ticket prices, those increases are less likely to stay in affect. The markets airlines fly into are very competitive. If one competitor does not match the inrease into a particular market the airline that attempted the fare increase will most likely retract that increase to remain competitive and this happens all too often.

The baggage fee is a fee that will and can stick for good and every other day another airline is following suit and charging you the fee.

What frustrates and angers me is simple and if you’re a traveler who is facing this fee, you should be angry too. Now I know that “shoulds” are not a word we need to be using whether it is our loved one, family, friends, or co-workers, it is offensive to “should” anyone.

But this fee is offensive especially when the airlines state “Even if we mishandle your luggage, we will not refund the $25 fee” That is the same as saying we can CONTINUE to do a poor job with your luggage handing which ultimately affects your purpose for traveling and we don’t care, no one is holding us accountable to do a better job with your luggage on behalf of you and your purpose for buying a ticket on us. We simply do not care about you the traveler, our customer who pays our costs to operate as an airline. This to me is outrageous and I have worked for 17 years for the airlines, if it makes me furious, it is OK for you to demand the level of service you deserve especially if you are now being forced to pay another fee. If I was still the system manager of baggage, I would talk to my senior leadership to tell them we need to be held accounatble because that is what will seperate us from the competition.

WHY NOT REFUND THE FEE? You are paying a new fee that never existed before until now. That is the same thing as any other business you deal with saying “oh we made a mistake and you will pay for it” how fair is that???? Lets say you ordered lobster and they served you crayfish instead and the restaurant said crayfish is the same as lobster so deal with it. Would you lay down for that response and pay the price for what you did not get? Or would you fight for your rights as a consumer who is paying for a service and deserves the best service for your dollar and gets what you paid for? Come on air travel consumers, it is time to take a stand for you and your rights!

The airlines should hold themselves accountable, they need to step up their level of service and earn that new fee that you are paying for to help keep them afloat and in business. If an airline truly cared about you they would add a disclaimer to that $25 fee that states, if we mishandle your luggage, we will refund your $25 fee. This would for the first time have airline executives put more emphasis on doing a better job with handling your luggage and make your luggage a priority. Why not! After all you deserve it.

I challenge any airline today to take this stance and I will praise them and honor them as an airline that truly cares about you. I will sing their praises for years to come. Come on airlines, if you’re not a part of this fee now, I guarantee you will adopt the fee sooner than later as most airlines do. If you do not adopt this fee as an airline, I commend you but you still need to focus more effort on your baggage handling. One customer who suffers loss, damage, delay, or pilfered bags is too many in my book.

What can you do? their is a group of politicians who make up the Congressional Aviation Subcommittee and this group has called for a meeting in the past with the Air Transportation Association (ATA) to discuss this rapidly growing problem regarding your checked luggage and in the end of the meeting on May 3, 2006 after the senior VP of ATA John Meenan addressed the congressional panel; it was the Congressional panel that said we are sympathetic to the problem but it is clear that no help is on the horizon to fix this problem.

Please contact any member of the Congressional panel to voice your feelings on this matter, I know (through correspondence only) the Chairman of the subaviation committee and I sent him a copy of my book and he called me on a Saturday morning after he read my book and said he thoroughly enjoyed it and felt it was important to get my information into the hands of the air travel consumers. He also asked me to send a copy to Kip Hawley the head of the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) for his thoughts on mass distribution for the air travelers (you) at airports nation wide. I sent Kip Hawley a book and a letter and I have not heard back yet and this was about 3 months ago. I hope to hear from him but I am not holding my breath. I could not even get a telephone number to his office as it is guarded information according to one Congressman’s assistant and she made the call to his office to let his staff know about my book coming their way. Now is the time to take a stand on this issue, after all it only affects you when you travel. I wish you luck and am always here to guide you with my advice if I can help.

Trust me on this one, my little baggage guide book I wrote could have been hundreds of pages to tell the stories and losses of so many travelers just like you but I wrote what you need to know now when you travel, it is my gift to providing you a better travel experience. Regardless of what you think you may know about your luggage, I guarantee you there is information in my book that you will not know that can help you! I encourage you to leave your comments on your luggage experience so you can help each other.

Best Travels to you and yours,

Scott T. Mueller
Author The Empty Carouse a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage.
http://www.TheEmptyCarousel.com
Scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com

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Airline Travel Consumers, a $25 Second Checked Bag Fee is a Double Edged Sword For You and The Truth Behind The Fee You are Being Forced to Pay For Your Checked Luggage

Posted on April 26, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized |

Dear Air Traveler,

Just back from NY where I had an Emmy award winning reporter Peter Thorne at CW 11 News interview me for their wonderful “Factfinder” report about the book I wrote for you The Empty Carousel  and a topic I have discussed here on this blog. I will provide the link for you to view the news report when it comes out in the first week of May. Peter and the entire staff at CW 11 News treated me and my wife like family, Thank you Peter and CW 11 News in NY and thank you for the difference you are making every day in the lives of your viewers!!

Now onto tonight’s topic the addition of more airlines signing onto the new $25 fee for a second checked bag.  This is a double edged sword for you the air traveler. As mentioned in a previous post, even if your bag is mishandled the airlines will not refund the fee. Why you ask is this fair? It is not fair in my opinion but it is a way to add a fee that sticks to offset dramatically rising fuel costs. Let me explain further. The airlines, if they cared about you, your luggage and the fee would add a disclaimer that states, if you pay the fee and your bag or bags are mishandled, we will refund the $25 fee you paid in the least. You see this would help hold the airlines accountable to make sure they are doing the best baggage handling their company can do. This would force airlines to work to earn that fee but the way they are doing it to you the air traveler states that we can continue to fail on behalf of you our customer (AKA our bread and butter) and your luggage and not be held accountable but you will still pay us the additional fee. What other business is so brazen to do this I ask? You be the judge.

The airlines are an extremely volatile and competitive business. Every now and again airlines will test the waters and attempt a fare increase. When other airlines do not jump on board with the fare increase, many times the airline that initiated the increase will retract the increase to remain competitive in the markets they serve, it is all about beating the competition. These days there is not much difference in any airline as you all know, amenities are falling to the wayside and one airline pretty much is no different than the next. What matters in a society feeling the biggest financial pinch since the Great Depression is value for our dollar and cost of traveling for us or our family is our primary concern as it should be. Lets face it what control do we have anymore over fuel costs, food costs, living expenses, etc. Our current salaries no longer have the same value in the quality of life we live.

What used to make airlines stand out from the rest and have a consumer pay more is the level of service they provide, we all have spent a bit more because we wanted the best and were willing to pay the extra dollar to get it. With so many airline employees facing the loss of their jobs, loss of benefits and pay, we as human beings cannot help but let these life crisis affect our service to our customers. We can try to hide it but it does come out in the end in the level of service we provide our customers as it is our nature as people who have families to take care of and bills to pay to support our own families and lives we live. You can see it in the faces of everyone these days and especially those who work for the airlines.

Let me give you an example of what fuel costs mean to an airline. My company was not a major U.S. airline but was the number one airline for customer service and level of service it provided. Many awards including “Wolds Best Domestic Airline” was bestowed on my company many years in a row. But every penny increase in fuel prices, (Let me reiterate, every penny in increased fuel prices) equated to $1 Million in fuel costs per year added to the bottom line for my airline.

The airlines say that their business travelers will not be affected by this increased cost of checking a bag but that you the leisure traveler will burden the costs for checking a second bag. This is not necessarily a true statement. Many business travelers will be forced to check a second bag as their business materials, samples, products, etc. need to go with them on their business trip to make a sale and the airlines in general according to their Contracts of Carriage do not cover these items if lost, damaged, pilfered, or delayed. The choice is no longer available to the air traveler and rest assured if the airlines are successful in implementing these new charges which they will be; the fees will never go away but become a part of our travel experience to come.

Another reason to understand the process and know your rights. Please take measures to protect yourself and your best interests whether pleasure or business, you have a great deal to do with the outcome of your travel experience.

As always, safe and happy travels to you no matter the purpose of your travel.

Best Regards and stay tuned for my next post for a better air travel experience for you and yours.

Scott T. Mueller

Author: The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

www.TheEmptyCarousel.com

Scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com

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Where is the security for your luggage at the carousel?

Posted on April 17, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Air travelers, a lot has changed since 9/11.  Do you remember some airports before 9/11 had those “security” people who checked your luggage claim checks against the bags you were taking with you? Where are they now? Who is watching out for your luggage until you claim it at the carousel?

The answer is NOONE is watching out for your luggage anymore or anywhere that I have heard of!! This means your bags are at risk until you pick them up yourself………. Why you ask? and what should you do? Allow me to offer some expert advise and clarification of what changed and why.

First of all, the airlines paid for the security companies that checked baggage checks against your luggage. After 9/11 the government abolished privotized security companies.

Two things came into play in 2001, the crash of the tech market and the terrorist attacks against our nation and the commercial airlines.  The airlines were already suffering financially due to the loss of a great deal of business travelers from the tech market crash. Business travelers are the bread and butter to the airlines because they pay the last minute higher priced air fare. Second was the entire nations aviation was halted for the first time in our nations history for 3 days before the first flight resumed.

Costs had to be evaluated and money had to be saved now. One of the first things to go was the baggage ID checkers. Then many airline employees lost their jobs as well due to reductions in force (RIF)

Baggage could stand on its own. Also the luggage security people did not exist at all airports nationwide. Many baggage claim areas at many airports did not have the design to coral so many travelers in a baggage area becuase there also had to be appropriate fire exits etc. There were certain safety criteria that had to be in place for the coral system to effectively work.

There was one airport that had security inspectors in place and a theft ring evloved within the baggage check ID inspectors and they were targeting golf clubs.

I highly doubt you will see this type of security return as airlines are focused mainly on their two highest costs, fuel and labor. And that is why you have to take control and responsiblity for your luggage when you travel. Noone has your best interest at hand with your luggage except you.

What can you do to protect yourself?

  • Don’t pack anything you cannot afford to lose, live without, or seal the deal without it!
  • When you exit the aircraft, make a mad dash to the baggage carousel.
  • If you have to make a restroom stop, do it quickly and preferably once you arrive to the baggage carousel, or take turns if you are with your family, group, or travel companion.
  • Most off-loads of baggage take about 20-25 minutes to arrive to the baggage carousel depending on how many passengers and bags are on your flight will determine more or less time as will the size of the airport and distance from the gate to the terminal.  Small airports take less time to get your bags to the carousel than larger airports will.
  • Mark your luggage so it stands out from the crowd, secure ribbons, colored tape etc. to help you identify it quickly.
  • Stand at the beginning area of the baggage carousel where the bags come out so your luggage does not get caught up traveling around the carousel where others may get to it before you do.
  • If you have an oversize bag such as golf clubs, bikes, surfboards, or other such oversized checked items, ask your airline representative where you can retrieve your item as in most cases a different location for delivery of your item will bu used to drop the items than the carousel where regular sized bags are off-loaded.
  • DO NOT stop to eat, have a meeting, wait for a friend to arrive on their flight, shop, get coffee etc.
  • Hesitation on your part leaves an open opportunity to would be petty thieves to roll off with your luggage and personal property.
  • Maintain vigilance at all times while waiting for your luggage to arrive.
  • When you have your luggage, do not leave it unattended or turn your back on it.  I did that once when I had the old heavy camcorder in the large metal case and set it at my feet then turned my back to it without thinking in a small airport, when I turned around, it was gone, stolen while just inches away from me while I had my back turned. Don’t let it happen to you.

Doing these things will certainly enhance your luggage safety at the carousel. You can read more about these valauble tips and more information you should know when you travel at www.TheEmptyCarousel.com

Safe and happy travels where ever they take you and remember you can always post a comment here or at the website listed above. My advice is always free through these venues and by educating youself on what you can do to protect your property and understanding the entire baggage process will not only benefit you but the entire system of air travel and all parties involved.

Scott T. Mueller

Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Gide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

www.TheEmptyCarousel.com

 

 

 

 

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Airtravelluggageconsultant Weblog

Posted on April 11, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized |

Airtravelluggageconsultant Weblog

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Don’t Pack it….Just released from the TSA, Can you afford to lose it?

Posted on April 11, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This is my damaged bag, what would you do if it were your bag?A special report just released in 2008 from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reveals that in a three-year period nearly 42,000 travelers have reported items as lost from their luggage at an estimated value of more than $31 Million. We are not talking lost for a couple of days. We are talking lost for good!! Listed as MIA are medicine, clothing, fine jewelry, laptops, perfume and even cell phones. (Keep in mind that these numbers do not necessarily reflect reports of missing items directly reported to the Air Carriers) The Empty Carousel will teach you how to avoid becoming one of these statistics.

Now I have had folks file claims for “alleged” stolen items out of their bags such as: shirts, shorts, shoes, pants, breast pumps (Yeah that is what I said) dirty underwear, fake boobs used in stage theater for an actress, cameras, keys, marijuana (Yeah that is what I said) People have claimed that their illegal drugs were stolen, medication (legal, that is) wallets, make-up, jewelery and the list goes on and on……..

The question you need to ask yourself is, do you know what items mentioned above would be covered and paid for by the airlines if it was taken from your luggage?

Even of the airline pays your claim, do you really think they pay full value back to you? Folks don’t end up being another victim of theft, know what you can do, ask me here or through my website www.TheEmptyCarousel.com and I will be happy to offer you my expert advise for free.

The problems with your luggage when you travel is getting worse by the day and by the year. It is time to turn the tide of this growing problem and I can help you to do that, it all starts with you becoming a savvy traveler.  More blogs and more interesting stories will be coming so sign up to get this blog and share what you learn or take from it with your friends and family, together we can make a difference. Safe travels to you always.

Scott T. Mueller

Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

 

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When you pack your luggage, do you know what your doing? This elderly woman did not have a clue she packed her husband and his dog…. « Airtravelluggageconsultant Weblog

Posted on April 11, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

When you pack your luggage, do you know what your doing? This elderly woman did not have a clue she packed her husband and his dog…. « Airtravelluggageconsultant Weblog

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When you pack your luggage, do you know what your doing? This elderly woman did not have a clue she packed her husband and his dog….

Posted on April 10, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Information for today\'s air travel consumerWhile working as an airline baggage service manager, I received a call one day from a woman who said her bag was lost, that is not uncommon these days as many of you know.  She was frantic, so I did what I did best, used empathy (sincerely) and listened to what her itinerary was etc. From Maine on airline “A” then connecting to another airline “B” of which the two are not associated you see.  But carrier “B” being the final carrier accepts responsibility even though when the dust settled, airline “A” created all the problems to begin with.

So I listened to this nice elderly lady and then told her that everything would be ok and if the bag was not found in 30 days from the date of loss, I would buy her a new bag and replace the contents that would be covered by my airline’s “Contract of Carriage” (Do you know what this is?) And of course, items that are not covered certainly would pertain to what she had packed in her luggage in this case……………. Yes, you already have the clue from the tag line.

Unknowingly, she had packed her husbands remains and that of his favorite dog to take to their vacation home and sprinkle his and doggies remains together per his dying wish and a good wish.

She thought anything would be safe in her checked luggage, even her beloved husband and doggies ashes.  So I offered her my home phone number to call me when ever she needed to while I did my best to locate the checked bag that mysteriously disappeared.  She continued calling and crying and of course her distraught sons one who is a reporter and the other an attorney were preparing to put my company out of business.

I did all I could to find her beloved loved ones but to no avail.  Finally 30 days later, airline “A” called my customer at home and told her “Are you missing a bag” Oh my!! yes with tears streaming down her eyes so plans were made to express mail her loved ones to her where she lived.

That was the happy part of this story, although tragedy was avoided, elderly customer called me to chew me a new back side and told me I did nothing to find her bag and loved ones because airline “A” had the bag for 30 days.  Here in lies the problem, since it came to be that airline “A” never entered her bag into the world wide lost luggage computer system that most airlines use, nor did they use the ID tag she had on the bag with her name, address, and phone number until 30 days later!  You may also be asking why the lost luggage store in Alabama stocks its shelves with 7000 of your lost luggage items every day for resale.

You see, when bags are delayed, lost, damaged, or pilfered, it does help to understand the process and your rights, what a Contract of Carriage is and what it covers.  Allow me to help you with my new book on this topic specifically written to turn the tide of this growing problem. Go on and check it out plus I will offer you free consulting through my website or here. Safe travels to you always.

Scott T. Mueller

Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

www.TheEmptyCarousel.com

 

 

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Breaking News, Airlines are charging you to mishandle your luggage

Posted on April 10, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Air Travel Consumer, not that things are getting any better with your checked and carry-on luggage, released today in the Washington Post, airline luggage mishandles are up 8 percent in 2007 from 2006, that is 4.4 million bags mishandled in 2007, that is up from 2006, 2005, 2004………. You get the idea and it is not going to get any better.

United Airlines started charging for a second bag to check for 25.00, since then these carriers have followed on their heals, US Airways, Continental, Northwest, and Delta, don’t think it will end there, I would expect to see most carriers following suit very soon.

The airlines made a bold statement “Airline representatives said they would not refund that charge if the bags are mishandled” Not only do you have mishandled bags but now you are paying for the lack of service, frustration, lost time, lost money, etc.

The only option you have is to understand the system, know what you can do to take back some control, and what to do and what your entitled to if you and your luggage don’t arrive to your destination at the same time.  I wrote a book on this exact topic because I know the only way to turn the tide in this growing problem is to offer you my inside knowledge as a veteran of the airline industry and former System Baggage Service Manager for more than 50 cities.  I am also available through my website to offer you free advice as I am here.

I will act as your luggage consultant for free to help you avoid becoming another statistic and what to do if you are another statistic. Lets start our own grass roots movement to turn the tide in your favor. Hope to hear from you soon.

Scott T. Mueller

Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

ISBN: 978-0-9791209-0-9

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Breaking News, Airlines are charging you to mishandle your luggage

Posted on April 9, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Dear Air Travel Consumer, not that things are getting any better with your checked and carry-on luggage, released today in the Washington Post, airline luggage mishandles are up 8 percent in 2007 from 2006, that is 4.4 million bags mishandled in 2007, that is up from 2006, 2005, 2004………. You get the idea and it is not going to get any better.

United Airlines started charging for a second bag to check for 25.00, since then these carriers have followed on their heals, US Airways, Continental, Northwest, and Delta, don’t think it will end there, I would expect to see most carriers following suit very soon.

The airlines made a bold statement “Airline representatives said they would not refund that charge if the bags are mishandled” Not only do you have mishandled bags but now you are paying for the lack of service, frustration, lost time, lost money, etc.

The only option you have is to understand the system, know what you can do to take back some control, and what to do and what your entitled to if you and your luggage don’t arrive to your destination at the same time.  I wrote a book on this exact topic because I know the only way to turn the tide in this growing problem is to offer you my inside knowledge as a veteran of the airline industry and former System Baggage Service Manager for more than 50 cities.  I am also available through my website to offer you free advice as I am here.

I will act as your luggage consultant for free to help you avoid becoming another statistic and what to do if you are another statistic. Lets start our own grass roots movement to turn the tide in your favor. Hope to hear from you soon.

Scott T. Mueller

Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

ISBN: 978-0-9791209-0-9

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What are your legal rights when you travel by air?

Posted on April 8, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Air travel consumers, did you know that when you purchase a ticket for traveleing, you are now bound by the airlines “Contract of Carriage” Do you know what information the Contract of Carriage contains regarding your legal rights for delays, cancellations, mishandled baggage, bumping and so much more? Do you know where to find an airlines Contract of Carriage? Give me a shout and I can help advise you. As the author of a new book The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage, I will offer you education to protect you and your property when you travel.

Just released yesterday, airline complaints have increased 60% in 2007 over 2006! One third of those complaints were about your luggage. How can I help you?

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