Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"We Screwed Up" Is the Phrase of the Day: Apologies from Delta and AirBnB, But Not Alas from the US Congress

Sorry for that book-length headline. But there's so much happening, and I have to pack to catch a plane fairly soon, so today's post will be a bit more breathless than usual. 

In the "what are they THINKING" category: It seems that the FAA issue is not going to be resolved before the Congress goes out of session later today. Having reached a compromise on the debt ceiling, the poor dears are too pooped to deal with other pressing matters, it seems. So they'll toddle off on their vacations until September 6 leaving the US public to wonder whether their own vacations will be safe in the next few weeks. And that's not hyperbole. Vital repair work cannot be done because of this shutdown and the longer it goes on for, the more problems will crop up.

As for the taxes usually collected by the FAA: there will be a shortfall in the BILLIONS by the time Congress goes back into session. The FAA is losing $30 million a DAY because of this political wrangling. The vital air service programs (the subsidized airports) are paid for by just a few days worth of those taxes. Instead of simply reauthorizing the agency, our foresight-free senators and congresspeople are letting the matter fester and when they return from holiday, simply finding enough cash to pay the Air Traffic Controllers is going to be pressing issue.

I just spent the last half hour shooting off emails to my congressperson and senator. I urge you to do the same.

(Photo by Andrei Dimofte)
As many of you know, a number of the airlines are profitting from this tax holiday by keeping the taxes themselves and counting it as profit. Well, one carrier has had an attack of conscience and yesterday, Delta Airlines announced that it will refund the taxes collected during the FAA shutdown. It joins Spirit Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines, all of which lowered fares to reflect the lack of tax when the FAA shutdown occurred. Delta, do you think you could talk with US Airways, Southwest, American and the rest and get them to do the right thing on this too? Its downright ugly to be making profits off of this situation.

In other "manning up" news, AirBnB has admitted it acted poorly when members complained that their apartments had been trashed by renters found through the site. I got an email just this morning from AirBnB (as I've been a guest with this service in the past, having rented an apartment in Gdansk and stayed in a room in a home in Cambridge, MA) saying that owners would now have a $50,000 guarantee against serious damages, provided by AirBnB. So good on you, AirBnB. Seems like a good solution to the problem.

And now, I've got to pack!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Pauline, US Airways has announced that they will refund the tax.
    However it appears this problem may be resolved tomorrow. Let's keep our fingers crossed.