Time to Occupy the Airports?

One of the things driving consumer and American anger about the current economy and corporate practices is that we have gone from a society where “the price on the sticker is the price” to adopting business practices which consistently and intentionally lie to the consumer about the price – incorporating numerous hidden charges.

Think about it. You walk into a store, pick up a bottle of dish soap – and the price on the sticker is $3.29. When you get to the register to pay, the price isn’t $3.29, or even $3.29 plus the local 5% sales tax – but the store has tacked on a $1.00 “shelf restocking fee” and a $0.50 “parking space fee”, and a $0.25 “cash register fee”…

Would you be a bit pissed off?

Yet that exactly is standard business practice at the big banks, in the cell phone and internet industry…and now the airlines.

The bait and switch really went mass scale in the telecom industry starting in the 90′s with the mass emergence of cell phones. Indeed, outside of banking fees levied on consumers, the telecom industry is probably the most dishonest business in America in terms of lying to the consumer, and covering up hidden charges. The only thing you can be certain of in dealing with a cell phone provider, is the advertised $99 a month subscription fee is a lie. You will always wind up paying, sometimes much, much, more.

The compact between the consumer and corporations in America isn’t broken just in terms of jobs – it’s a break down of basic honesty.

Flying anymore has become a hidden game of “gotcha”. This summer, when flights were shut down at Miami due to the fire at the fuel facility, I had a major go-round with the counter folks over paying a baggage fee. That airline did not charge baggage fees on international flights. It seems though, by having the misfortune of getting stuck in Miami Airport overnight, because flights couldn’t leave – the international portion of my flight was a day later than the domestic portion…

And thus I “owed” the Airline $150 in baggage fees to fly from my home airport in the US to Miami… And spend the night on the floor in my business suit.

This one is the horrifying story of a woman trapped in an airport for 8 days by hidden fees. Now – airports are specifically designed to be uncomfortable places to camp out in – to prevent the homeless from using them. The downside of that is if passengers are stranded, you are screwed in terms of finding any reasonable place to sleep or rest. Don’t even bother to ask the logical question of how the homeless could get through airport security with a shopping cart and no ticket…

It’s just one of those clues that haven’t occurred to airport managers and engineers yet.

Terri Weissinger Trapped In Airport For Eight Grueling Days Due To Hidden Fees

No matter how many 10-minute massage parlors and Wolfgang Puck vending machines they install to entertain weary travelers, getting stranded in an airport for even a few hours is rarely a pleasant experience.

For Terri Weissinger, who was trapped in San Francisco International Airport for over a week, it was nothing short of a nightmare.

With only $30 to her name, the Sonoma native was virtually broke and looking to start afresh in Idaho. She booked a ticket from San Francisco to the Gem State on the travel website Orbitz but, because she purchased her ticket before a new federal law went into effect requiring ticket brokers to disclose all hidden fees, Wessinger was unaware of the extra $60 U.S. Airways would charge at the airport to check her two bags.

Weissinger offered to pay the fee once she got to her destination or leave one of her bags behind; however, U.S. Airways personnel refused, citing airline policy for denying her former request and airport security regulations for denying the latter.

While attempting to resolve her situation, Weissinger missed her plane—thereby racking up another $150 in fees.

Weissinger ended up spending eight stressful days living in the terminal and sleeping in an out-of-the-way stairwell. She was treated for anxiety at the airport medical clinic. When she attempted to plead with airport authorities for help, she was threatened with arrest on vagrancy charges.

“[It's] ridiculous,” said Wessinger to ABC 7. “I couldn’t believe it sometimes, you know, it’s just incredibly ridiculous situation to be in.”

Out of options, Weissinger saw a listing for the nearby Airport Church of Christ in a phone book and placed a call. Moved by her situation, the church quickly raised the necessary $210 to get Weissinger out of her predicament and on her way.

When ABC 7 asked U.S. Airways about Weiddinger’s situation, the airline responded: “We have apologized to Ms. Weissinger for her experience, but unfortunately are unable to offer a refund. When you purchase a non-refundable ticket, you accept the terms and conditions. If a passenger cannot travel with their bags, they need to make other arrangements.”

Airline fees have spiraled in recent years as sites like Orbitz and Travelocity have allowed customers to instantly compare ticket prices between competing airlines. The easy access to this information has pushed airlines to offer cheaper ticket prices up front, ensuring their results appear closer to the top of any given search. As a result, they are relying more heavily on additional fees popping up later in the ticketing process to make up a larger portion of their revenue.

TSA Searches For “Hair Bomb”

I think this woman’s Afro is bigger than the one who got the Guinness Record!

Anyway, in the never-ending search to prevent folks from coming up with even more ingenious ways to sneak something they are not supposed to, onto a plane…

The TSA is now searching Afros!

 

Congress Leaves FAA Projects In a Lurch – Thousands Out of Work

Another Tea Bagger effort at Union busting has led to the shutdown…

More of those Tea Bagger "principles" at Work

Dispute over FAA halts more than 250 airport projects

The partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration has halted more than 250 aviation development projects and caused thousands of construction workers to lose their jobs, the FAA and the construction industry say.

The projects, which were valued at $10.5 billion when they began, include radar systems to prevent runway and taxiway collisions at airports, installation of runway safety lights and construction of air-traffic control towers and facilities.

About 24,000 construction workers — in an industry already hit hard by the recession — have lost work or their jobs because of the projects’ suspension, says Brian Turmail, a spokesman for the Associated General Contractors of America. The trade group says the construction industry’s unemployment rate was 16% in June when jobs totaled 5.5 million — 2.2 million less than the industry’s all-time high in April 2006.

The halt of aviation development projects also jeopardizes 46,000 other jobs in businesses related to construction, the group says.

The FAA’s partial shutdown is a result of an FAA funding standoff between the House and Senate, and their inability to reach an agreement to re-authorize the agency’s operations.

The dispute has also led to furloughs of nearly 4,000 FAA employees and threatens to cost the government more than $1 billion in revenue from uncollected airline ticket taxes if Congress doesn’t solve the problem until lawmakers return to Washington in September.

President Obama urged Congress to extend the FAA’s operating authority. The standoff involves House Republicans’ efforts to change an airline labor rule to make it more difficult for employees to unionize and proposed cuts of $16.5 million in airline service subsidies to rural communities. Senate Democrats oppose both.

Terrorist Attack at Moscow’s Domdedovo Airport

A suicide bomber set off an explosion this morning in the baggage arrival section of the Domodedovo Airport, which is the principal International Airport in Moscow. At least 39 people were killed and over 160 were injured.

The commentator here talks about “Airport Security”. Unfortunately the one area of an airport which is not secured is the arrivals area. In most airports, people can enter or exit that area from the Arrivals area of the airport at will without going through any security scanning. It would not have been difficult for a terrorist to sneak into that area pretending to be someone meeting an arriving passenger.

The ugly truth is Airport Security is really about protecting the expensive airplanes and facilities… Not the passengers.

No word on who the terrorists might be, or what their motivation is yet. Russia, like America certainly has a large enough whack-job population for this to have been a “statement” by a crazy.

Don’t Touch My Internet “Junk”, Either!

“Don’t touch my junk, Bro!”

Seems even a former Playboy Bunny, now confined to a wheelchair, can’t wear little enough to get through airport security without a patdown!

The woman who wore only her bra and panties while going through security at Will Rogers World Airport is speaking out about why she did it.

Video of Tammy Banovac sitting in a wheelchair in just her underwear has made international news. She said after a bad experience with a Transportation Security Administration pat-down, she decided to strip down to her lingerie so security screeners could clearly see she was not a threat.

“The less of me that they had to pat down and check, the less invasive a search would be. And wearing a bra and panties was just about as minimal as I could get,” Banovac said.

Banovac said because of injuries she suffered, she must use a wheelchair. She said she’s been subjected to uncomfortable pat-downs because she cannot go through metal detectors.

In other news – similar to “Do Not Call” registries, Do Not Cookie may soon become a reality on the Internet…

FTC pitches do-not-track system to let consumers opt out of Web data collection

The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday recommended creating a do-not-track system that would prevent Web sites from collecting unauthorized consumer data, part of a widely anticipated agency report on improving Internet privacy.

The FTC report, aimed at helping policymakers and lawmakers craft privacy rules, also calls for Web sites to disclose more about the information they gather on users, including what has been collected, how it is used and how long it is stored. It also recommended that companies offer users more choices for opting out of data collection schemes.

Regulators and lawmakers are focusing more closely on online privacy after a spate of high-profile data breaches, including Google’s recent admission that it collected personal data from Wi-Fi networks in several countries.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a news conference Wednesday that the current, largely unregulated approach to Internet privacy has fallen short. That approach is favored by advertisers, social-network operators and Web search companies.

The agency’s recommendations – passed unanimously by the five-member commission – seek to balance the concerns of Web advertisers, media companies and retailers that have devised business models around tailored advertisements based on profiles of users. The agency is taking comments on its report until Jan. 31.

“The FTC wants to help ensure that the growing, changing, thriving information marketplace is built on a framework that promotes privacy, transparency, business innovation and consumer choice,” Leibowitz said. “We believe that’s what most Americans want as well.”

Growing Pushback Against Airport Security Measures

Dealing with Airport Security can be a royal pain in the ass. The rules are confusing, sometimes seem trite and arbitrary, and the personnel could use some sensitivity training.

Case in point -

Airport pat-downs provoking backlash

New pat-down procedures at airports have prompted a growing backlash among pilots, flight attendants, civil-liberties groups and security-weary passengers who say the touching goes too far.

In the latest escalation of the debate over the balance between security and passenger rights, privacy advocates have enlisted consumer-rights activist and four-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader, who calls the screening techniques “extremely voyeuristic and intrusive.”

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) calls it the new reality of airport security.

The new TSA pat-down procedure is part of a general tightening of air security that includes new full-body scanners which use X-rays to see through clothing to detect suspicious objects. If a full-body machine — like those now in use at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport — shows something strange or a passenger declines to go through the machine, a TSA officer will perform a more personal search.

The examinations routinely involve the touching of breasts and genitals, invasive searches designed to find weapons and suspicious items. The searches, performed by TSA security officers of the same sex as the passenger, entail a sliding hand motion on parts of the body where a lighter touch was used before, aviation-security analysts say. The areas of the body that are being touched haven’t changed.

“It’s more than just patting you down. It’s very intrusive and very insane. I wouldn’t let anyone touch my daughter like that,” said Marc Moniz, of Poway, Calif., who is planning to accompany his daughter’s eighth-grade class from San Diego to Washington, D.C., in April. “We’re not common criminals.”

Brian Sodergren, of Ashburn, Va., who works in the health-care industry, is organizing an “opt-out” day to encourage passengers to say no to advanced imaging technology, known to industry insiders as a “virtual strip-search.” He’s planning the protest for one of the busiest travel days of the year: Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving.

“Many people only fly around the holidays and may not be aware of the security changes,” Sodergren said. “I think once people are made aware of what is happening, they may have reservations about the new procedures.”

An activist group has launched WeWontFly.com, a website, and says it has gotten more than 70,000 hits a day since going online just a week ago. The site asks passengers to say no to scans and pat-downs and for TSA to remove its “porno-scanners” and “gropers.”

“We’re opposed to letting TSA treat us like criminals,” said James Babb, 42, of Eagleville, Pa., who is organizing the We Won’t Fly campaign.

 

 

 

 

Eddie Bernice Johnson Scholarship Scandal

A burgeoning scandal on how certain members of the CBC are handing out scholarships to their own relatives, and to political allies. In the spotlight is Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who awarded $31,000 in Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarships to her grand children and nieces. Now, accusations have been made that she awarded a $1,000 scholarship to the son of a senior executive at the Dallas Airport who may have had some influence over her business interests.

Now – the money to the relatives was unquestionably wrong. However the accusation relative to the Dallas Airport official seems exceedingly thin. Especially in view of the amount of money involved – $1.000. here are Congressmen and Senators on the Hill who are being slipped tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars under the table by Healthcare, communications, and even hostile foreign governments. So the question is…

Why all this focus on small potatoes? Especially in view that some of the elected folks on the Hill are committing what amounts to treason… Some, if accounts are to believed, even accepting Communist Chinese money to fund election ads.

 

My Ding-a-Ling

What’s with the Republican need to get swarthy men nekkid?


more about “My Ding-a-Ling“, posted with vodpod
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