“What a year,” says Tom
Parsons, CEO of Bestfares.com
. “I have never seen this many major changes in
the 20 years we have been monitoring the travel industry.”
Following the terrorist events of Sept. 11, 2001, and an unprecedented
three-day shutdown of American airspace, most U.S. airlines began to make
substantial changes in the way they did business.
“From huge cutbacks in service to major airlines charging for amenities;
and from paper tickets becoming obsolete to travel agents being run out of
business due to commission cuts, the way John Q. Public traveled prior to
Sept. 11, 2001, is remembered as the `good, old days.` Many flyers long for
those days to return, and those days aren`t likely to return,” says Parsons.
One year later, Bestfares.com has identified 50 issues that affect the
travel. “There are two certainties: changes will continue, and Bestfares.com will
continue to monitor those developments,” says Parsons.
Parsons, founder of Bestfares.com, one of the most sought-after travel
industry experts in the United States, has been chasing down hidden travel
bargains and bringing them to the traveling public for nearly two decades.
Parsons averages more than 150 media interviews monthly and regularly appears
on NBC`s The Today Show, ABC`s Good Morning America, CBS`s The Early Show,
CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, as well as nationally syndicated radio, such
as ABC, CBS, CNN and AP Radio Network.
Top-20 Travel Industry Changes:
1. After tragedy struck, millions of travelers are stranded with some
international passengers not able to return home for as much as 10 days.
2. When commercial air travel is allowed to resume, changes in security
are immediate and chaotic, varying from airport to airport and security
screener to security screener.
3. Gate areas are secured with only ticketed passengers allowed access.
4. The Department of Transportation restricts passengers to one carry-on
bag and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) revs up random
searches. Flight attendants and passengers assume in-flight security front
line positions as the U.S. Sky Marshal program is expanded.
5. Airlines are required to improve their cockpit security. JetBlue
responds by retrofitting doors with armor and placing video cameras in
6. A two-hour window for airport arrival is enforced. Currently, it can
take from five minutes to one hour to pass through security.
7. Decreased bookings cause airlines to offer major discounts worldwide;
roundtrips to Europe for $198 roundtrip and Hawaii from over 100 U.S. cities
for $330 roundtrip, or less.
8. Passenger-to-bag matches are mandated on all except connecting
9. Most airlines (except Southwest) trim schedules and staff, by more
than 100,000 employees to save money. Additionally, all major airlines and
most regional carriers cut standard travel agent commissions to zero.
10. Passengers who pay for tickets with cash or by check are automatically
targeted for increased scrutiny.
11. Airlines initiate paper ticket charges of up to $25 in a major cost-
12. Checked baggage is restricted to two pieces (with one carry-on) and
additional and oversized bags incur fees, typically $80 to $180.
13. Major restrictions are placed on non-refundable tickets and stand-by
policies. Consumers risk losing the value of their tickets if they miss their
flight and do not change their tickets (with payment of a fee) prior to
14. Major U.S. and international airlines increase change fees for
transatlantic travel from $150 to $200.
15. Airlines cut meal service to reduce costs and consider fees for snacks
and drinks (some drink service on international flights has already gone to a
fee basis). Special meals are largely discontinued.
16. Long-standard 10 percent discounts on all published airfares for
seniors 62 and older, and their companions, are discontinued.
17. Senior coupon books for air travel are discontinued by all airlines,
except America West.
18. Airlines discontinue their hidden (and sporadically applied) $40 fuel
19. The government bailout program for the airlines ($5 billion with a
$10 billion reserve) is so far granted only to major carriers. To date, all
low-fare carrier requests have been refused.
20. The TSA discontinues mandatory check-in questions in place for