Travel briefs: More rights for airline travelers

More rights for airline passengers

Starting this summer, airline passengers should be able to see the true price of a flight more easily — and get more money if they’re bumped from a flight.

Those are among consumer protections in new federal regulations that will take effect this summer.

Airlines also will have to pay if they lose a suitcase after charging passengers checked-bag fees. And travelers who reserve a flight at least one week before departure will be able to lock in the quoted airfare without payment for at least 24 hours after the reservation is made. They also can cancel a reservation within at least 24 hours without penalty.

The long-sought reforms represent the Obama administration’s latest response to demands from consumer advocates for a wide-ranging passenger bill of rights, even as the airline industry insists many of the goals could have been achieved through voluntary actions.

Americans paying more for same flights

U.S. travelers have become the airline industry’s sugar daddy, the founder of a popular travel website says. Tom Parsons, who operates BestFares.com, said many major airlines are charging American travelers at least 30 percent more to fly to Europe than they are charging Europeans to fly along the same route to the U.S.

For example, he said a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Rome in mid-June on British Airways costs about $1,600, excluding taxes and surcharges. But if you are flying from Rome to L.A. on the same airline in the same week, the airfare is less than $1,200.

A Seattle Times check on a mid-June round trip from Seattle to Rome on Delta Air Lines showed a fare of $1,478, including taxes. Flying from Rome to Seattle on the same dates, the fare was $1,178.

The reasons, Parsons said, are that the U.S. economy is resurging and Americans are willing to pay higher fares. In contrast, he said, airlines can’t sell such expensive tickets to more savvy Europeans.

Airline officials confirm that the reasons for the price disparity are marketplace factors and the different peak-travel seasons from country to country.

Share your Washington

Washington residents are the focus of a new tourism campaign called “Share Your Washington,” launched by the state’s Tourism Office. Residents are being encouraged to invite out-of-state friends and family to visit by emailing them postcards at www.shareyourwashington.com. Postcards sent from the website will qualify as an entry for a grand prize of unlimited air travel from Alaska Airlines for one year and two round-trip tickets to any Alaska Airlines destination. The campaign will likely be the last for the state tourism office which is expected to close June 30 due to budget cuts.

Scalpers jack up price of campsites

Yosemite National Park has a pest problem: Ticket scalpers who are selling the limited camping reservations at exorbitant prices.

Yosemite has only 900 reserved campsites available at any given time. They go for $20 a night, but scalpers advertising on Craigslist are offering them for $100 or more.

Seattle Times staff and news services

Apr 24th, 2011 | Posted in Travel
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