Bank of America Scraps Plans to Charge for Debit Card Use

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Bank of America has scrapped plans to levy a $5 a month fee on debit card users, following public outcry.



Brooklyn Museum Is City's Latest Cultural Institution to Hike Admission Price

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Brooklyn Museum announced a $2 hike in its suggested admission rates on Friday — up to $12 for adults, and $8 for students and seniors.



New Rules Protecting Airline Passengers Go Into Effect

Monday, August 22, 2011


The U.S. Department of Transportation's latest set of "flier protection" rules go into effect Tuesday. The department can now impose large fines on international flights that wait on the tarmac for more than four hours.

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Transportation Nation

DOT Forces Airlines to Disclose Fees, Add Other Passenger Protections

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The U.S. Department of Transportation announced tougher rules designed to protect airline passengers today. The new requirements deal with baggage fees, tarmac wait times and compensation for travelers bumped from flights.

Most of the rule changes announced have to do with fees and costs to passengers. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said airlines will be required to reimburse passengers for baggage fees if a bag is lost, though not if it is late."People get so upset and mad that their bag didn't make it, and then they find out that they're not even going to be reimbursed? It's ridiculous," LaHood told NPR.

Airlines will also be required to "prominently disclose all potential fees" on their websites. That includes baggage fees, but also meal costs, seat upgrade fees as well as government taxes and surcharges. Currently government fees aren't required to be included in the posted price of an airline ticket. Additionally, the compensation for passengers who are involuntarily bumped from flights is being doubled.

“Airline passengers have a right to be treated fairly,” said Secretary LaHood in a statement. “It’s just common sense that if an airline loses your bag or you get bumped from a flight because it was oversold, you should be reimbursed.

LaHood also told NPR the DOT was enshrining these policies in regulation because the industry was not doing it on their own. "Competition has not taken care of these problems. We would not be addressing them if competition had done that," LaHood said.

Another new rule annouced today expands the ban on legnthy tarmac delays. Airlines can be fined as much as $27,500 per passenger if a plane stays on the tarmac more than four hours. That 2009 rule nearly eliminated the dreaded experience of being stranded for hours trapped in a grounded plane. From May 2009 to February 2010 that happened 664 times, a year later, after the rule took effect, during the same period there were just 16 incidents.

Right now, only domestic airlines are required comply, but the new rule extends the fines to international carriers as well. The DOT says it is taking this action, in part, because of an incident at New York's JFK airport during a blizzard last winter when an international carrier held passengers for 11 hours.

Carriers must also provide water and access to working bathrooms after two hours.

Listen to the NPR report here. See the full announcement at the DOT website.

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Transportation Nation

US DOT Fines American for Undisclosed Voucher Fees

Monday, February 28, 2011

UPDATED: With response from American Airlines

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The U.S. Department of Transportation fined American Airlines $90,000 Monday for charging passengers undisclosed voucher fees. Airlines routinely offer free flight vouchers as an incentive to give up a seats on oversold flights. A DOT investigation found that American was not telling passengers about restrictions, including a $30 ticketing fee, on the use of those flight vouchers.

This is the first time the DOT has issued a fine on an airline for failing to disclose fees.

“When passengers volunteer to give up their seat on an oversold flight, they are entitled to be fully compensated – not to find out later that they’re getting $30 less,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  “Passengers deserve to be treated fairly when they fly, and especially when they’ve volunteered to give up their seat because the airline overbooked their flight.”

In a statement the DOT explained the rules for "bumping" and vouchers this way: "an airline must first seek volunteers willing to give up their seat on an oversold flight before bumping passengers involuntarily.  The carrier may offer any type or amount of compensation agreed to by the volunteer, in contrast to involuntary bumping situations, where DOT rules require airlines to pay passengers cash compensation in most cases."

An investigation by the DOT’s Aviation Enforcement Office found that American offered travel vouchers valued at specific dollar amounts as compensation for voluntary bumping.  However, when awarding the vouchers, the DOT found, American did not tell passengers about a ticketing fee required to redeem the vouchers, nor that the vouchers could not be redeemed on the carrier’s internet site.

The DOT stresses that the process for redeeming oversales flight vouchers remains more cumbersome and complicated than purchasing a ticket or redeeming other flight vouchers.

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City Shelters Require Working Families to Start Savings Accounts

Friday, January 21, 2011

Working families staying at city homeless shelters must now pay into savings accounts that will be returned to them once they leave.

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MTA Railroad Fees Can Be More Costly Than A Ticket

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


A raft of new fees on Metro North and the Long Island Rail Road can be even more costly to riders than the recent 8.8 percent rise in prices.

Comments [2]

Transportation Nation

NYC Pols Take on Rental Car Fees Based on Residence

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Residents in some parts of New York City pay an additional fee--as much as $55 a day--to rent a car in the tri-state area because of their home address. The fee, charged by Dollar/Thrifty Rental Car, is determined not by where the car is rented, but by where the driver lives.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and other New York State elected officials held an event Wednesday calling attention to this practice and demanding that the company end the fees. Stringer said in a statement "it’s time for Thrifty and Dollar ... to halt this unconscionable practice once and for all. There’s only one way to describe these outrageous extra fees--and that’s price gouging.”

New York City residents of Manhattan and Staten Island pay no extra fee. Residents of Brooklyn pay $55 a day in additional fees, Bronx residents pay $53 a day and Queens residents pay $11 a day in extra fees.

In his statement, Stringer noted that many other car companies used to charge similar fees. As recently as 2006, Stringer said Hertz charged $56 for Bronx residents, $34 for Brooklyn residents, $15 for Queens residents and $3 for Manhattan residents. In fact New York City passed a law in 1992 banning the practice of residency-based fees for rental cars that was successfully challenged in court by Hertz, so the law remains unenforced.

Car rental industry analysts say it's not unusual for private companies to vary their rates in any number of way.

Calls to Dollar and Thrifty, part of a single corporation, were not returned.

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