Airlines

Travel Tidbits from Airports Near You

Airlines Fined for Not Giving Refunds on Time

On Monday, the Transportation Department fined a half-dozen airlines more than $7 million for failing to provide timely refunds to customers.

The DOT said the six airlines have also now collectively paid more than half a billion dollars to people who were owed a refund due to a canceled or significantly changed flight.

Frontier Airlines is the only U.S. airline on the list. And it got the biggest fine: $2.2 million. According to the DOT, the airline has issued $222 million in refunds.

Here’s a list of the other airlines fined and the amount of refunds they are required to pay:

The fines assessed and the required refunds provided are: 

  • Air India – $121.5 million in required refunds paid and a $1.4 million penalty 
  • TAP Portugal – $126.5 million in required refunds paid and a $1.1 million penalty 
  • Aeromexico – $13.6 million in required refunds paid and a $900,000 penalty 
  • El Al – $61.9 million in required refunds paid and a $900,000 penalty 
  • Avianca – $76.8 million in required refunds paid and a $750,000 penalty 

You Can Now Take the Metro to Dulles International Airport

With the opening of the long-awaited Silver Line Metrorail station at Dulles International Airport (IAD) on Tuesday, travelers and airport employees can now take the train directly to Dulles from downtown Washington, D.C.

The new station at Dulles is connected to the main terminal by an indoor pedestrian tunnel with moving sidewalks. Transit time from Metro Center in downtown D.C. is estimated at 53 minutes. And, depending on when you ride and where you access Metrorail, the fare will be between $2 and $6. Trains will leave the Dulles Silver Line station about every 15 minutes.

Courtesy Mamava

Mamava Lactation Pod Doubles as Art Gallery

You’ve probably noticed Mamava lactation pods popping up at airports.

Now one of these pods has been installed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Located under the lobby escalators on the Museum’s ground floor, the free-to-use pod not only provides a private, comfortable space for parents to pump or breastfeed, this one doubles as a gallery space.

Courtesy Mamava

The interior of the pod features reproductions of artworks by noted artist Betye Saar, including Anticipation (1961), which depicts the artist pregnant with her third child, In the Sunflower Patch (1963), and Flight (1963), depicting the early years of her daughter’s life. There’s also a quote by Saar in the pod, in which she reflects on motherhood, birthing, and her printmaking practice. 

Great idea, right? Maybe airports will add art to their Mamava lactation pods too.

In addition to museums and airports, Mamava now has lactation pods in train stations, corporate offices, schools, hospitals, military bases, retail, universities, sports stadiums, and zoos. You can locate them with a free locator app.

Hurricane Ian Still Tormenting Travel

Courtesy The Weather Channel

Hurricane Ian was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane late Wednesday evening, but that doesn’t mean the travel woes that wild weather brings are ended.

Early Thursday morning, FlightAware listed close to 2,000 flight cancellations within, into, or out of the United States. Not surprisingly, the airports with the most canceled flights were in Florida and the southeast.

A handful of airports remain closed for commercial operations

Orlando International Airport (MCO) ceased commercial operations Wednesday morning but remains open to open to accept emergency/aid and relief flights, if necessary. In preparation for Ian’s arrival, airport personnel tied down the jet bridges and covered the ticket counters. The airport’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is in full activation. And, depending on damage assessment, commercial operations are expected to resume Friday, MCO said in a statement.

Here are some of the other airports that closed in advance of Hurricane Ian’s arrival.

Airports open, with delays & cancellations.

Key West International Airport (EYW) plans to reopen at 7am on Thursday, September 29.

Airlines offering alerts and travel waivers

Here are links to the travel alerts and travel waiver offers from many domestic airlines. Many now cover flights to, from, or through airports in cities throughout Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas.

If you’ve got a flight scheduled, be sure to keep checking back.

Alaska Airlines

American Airlines

Delta Air Lines

Frontier Airlines

JetBlue

Spirit Airlines

Southwest Airlines

United Airlines

Airline aprons. The kind you wear.

We’re big fans of the treasures in the collection of the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

And of the museum’s searchable online database.

This tweet, about the museum’s collection of more than 100 flight attendant smocks and aprons sent the Stuck at the Airport fashion reporter down a very deep rabbit hole checking out the fashions.

We love this 1980s-era apron from Japan Airlines

And this one from Western Airlines. Also from the 1980s.

And check out this Delta Air Lines apron from 1973.

Not loving the airlines right now? J.D. Power says you’re not alone

We may be flying again, but that doesn’t mean we’re happy with the service airlines are providing.

In fact, according to J.D. Power’s 2022 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, overall passenger satisfaction with airlines is down due to higher costs, pandemic-era restrictions, and a host of other factors.

“Customer satisfaction with North American airlines climbed to unprecedented highs for all of the wrong reasons during the past two years,” Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power said in the report’s release statement. “Fewer passengers meant more space on airplanes, less waiting in line, and more attention from flight attendants. But that business model was simply not sustainable.”

Now, Taylor says, volumes are surging, some pandemic-era constraints are still in place, and passenger satisfaction declined in all three study segments—first/business, premium economy, and economy/basic economy.

The charts below show how passengers ranked North American carriers by segment, using eight measurement factors: aircraft; baggage; boarding; check-in; cost and fees; flight crew; in-flight services; and reservation.

The overall score was 798 – on a 1,000-point scale – which is down more than 20 points from a year ago.

You’ll see that JetBlue and Alaska Airlines topped the rankings in the First/Business segment; JetBlue and Delta Air Lines finished first in the Premium Economy sector; and that Southwest and JetBlue led in the economy segment.

Mask mandate off. For now.

On Monday a federal judge in Florida struck down the Biden administration’s mandate requiring masks to be worn in airports, on airplanes, trains, buses, and on other forms of public transportation.

The ruling is being reviewed. But late Monday, the Transportation Security Administration issued a statement informing the public that:

Due to today’s court ruling, effective immediately, TSA will no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs. TSA will also rescind the new Security Directives that were scheduled to take effect tomorrow. CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time.

TSA’s announcement was followed by messages from airports and airlines saying they too would no longer enforce the mask mandate.

Here are a couple of airport tweets on the subject. Note the tweet from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) where masks are still required.

Airlines were pretty quick to declare that they would no longer be requiring passengers to wear masks on board either.

American Airlines, Alaska Airines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country, United Airlines and most every other airline issued a statement and/or sent out a social media post.

You may – and maybe should – still wear a mask when you travel

While masks may no longer be required when traveling, it may still be a good idea to wear a mask in busy airports and on airplanes and on public transporation to and from the airport.

Coronavirus infections are on the rise in many communities and you, or someone around you, may be immunocompromised and easily susceptible to the current COVID variant, the flu, or whatever else may be going around.

There are also still a lot of unvaccinated people out there. So wearing a mask is an easy way to protect yourself and those around you.

If you decide to no longer wear a mask when traveling, please be respectful of those who continue to wear them.