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Thread: Passenger Rights On Airliners

  1. #1
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Passenger Rights On Airliners

    What's OK and What's Not OK for passengers to do on airliners? Well... It's all written right into your contract with the airline, when you buy your ticket... There are also several "common courtesies" associated with airline flight...


    1) Is it OK to recline your seat? Yes. The seat is sold with the recline function. If the seat were not supposed to recline, then it would not have the recline button on the armrest. If you don't like the fact that the seat in front of you reclines, then write a letter to the airline. It is not the passenger's fault that the seat reclines.

    2) Is it OK to put the window shade up or down? If you are seated in the window seat, then you have total control over the window shade. However, general courtesy is that the window shade is down during the enroute portion of the flight, and is up during the departure and arrival phases of flight.

    3) If there is a middle seat, the person in the middle seat has first priority for both of his armrests. The window/aisle passengers are free to use the remaining space available on the armrests.

    4) When possible, "bathroom breaks" by the middle seat and window seat passengers should be taken immediately after the meal trays are collected.

    5) Generally speaking, window seat passengers should not be disturbed for any reason.

    6) If you're seated in a bulkhead row, the space under your seat is Not your space for storage. That space belongs to the person seated behind you.

    7) Move efficiently. If you're traveling alone, with only a backpack, then get on and off of the airplane quickly. If you're traveling with a family... with kids and multiple bags... then let the rest of the passengers get off of the airplane before you clog up the aisle.

    8) Don't start or get involved in a shouting match or a brawl on an airliner. If a situation appears to be escalating, call a flight attendant, immediately.

    9) When is it OK to push the Flight Attendant (FA) Call Button? It's pretty simple... First of all, obviously, in the event of any emergency situation, you should definitely push the FA Call Button. Conversely, you should Avoid pushing the FA Call Button while the FAs are performing the standard meal/drink service. If the FAs are not moving about, particularly during a long flight, and you have a serious question or request (perhaps you're freezing cold and need a blanket, or have a question about the Immigration form), then you should push the FA Call Button. Is it OK to push the FA Call Button if you just want a drink? During a long flight... yes... it's OK... as long as you don't over-use it. Keep in mind, the FAs are not waitresses/waiters... they are primarily aboard for security and safety purposes.

    10) Is it OK to take your shoes off? Actually, for very valid health reasons, you SHOULD take your shoes off on long flights. Due to the reduced pressure at altitude, your feet swell in flight. This can result in discomfort and even health risks, such as DVT, in flight. My recommendation, and my own personal practice, is to pack a pair of clean, light, thin socks in your "personal item" for all long flights. Once the aircraft is at altitude, remove your shoes and put on your "in flight socks", right over your regular socks, if necessary. Your fellow passengers will appreciate the gesture. You can even walk about the cabin in your "in flight socks." You should also do ankle and leg stretching exercises on long flights to combat DVT risks and fatigue.

    11) I consider chewing gum to be a mandatory flight item. It's necessary for equalization, and also helps with after-meal dental issues and breath issues. You should also offer gum to the passenger(s) sitting directly next to you. I consider chewing gum to be superior to teeth-brushing aboard airliners, as the quality of tap water aboard most airliners is highly suspect.

    12) Don't be a "Chatty Cathy" with the person sitting next to you. If the person doesn't want to talk, then leave them alone.

  2. #2
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Here's one that always gets me...

    OK... Everyone feels so "Empowered" now that they can book their own airline tickets online, instead of using a travel agent. Good For You! But... Wait!... You forgot to select your seat! So... the young couple on honeymoon or the family with 2 kids forgot to reserve their seats when they booked their tickets. Now... They're on the airplane, with their seats scattered to the four winds, trying to get other passengers to swap seats with them so that their family can sit together.

    Of course, the most common human reaction is to help the family out and let them all sit together. But... My train of thought is more like... If you weren't as stupid as you are, you would have taken the appropriate steps to reserve seats for your family to sit together, instead of relying on the last-minute goodwill of your fellow passengers to get you out of the situation which you have so idiotically gotten yourself into. Now... Who's being Selfish and Inconsiderate in This Particular Situation? Pray Tell...

    Here's my own personal favorite encounter with this situation...

    I reserved the much-envied window exit-row seat on a 737 flight to San José from Houston. There was a young couple aboard who had been assigned the middle seat in the exit row (next to me) and the middle seat in the row in front (non-reclining). The girl (of course) sweetly asked me, "Would you please swap seats with my fiancé? We're on our honeymoon, traveling to Costa Rica!" I looked her straight in the eyes and answered, "If you get me another window seat, I'll swap seats with you." She immediately gave me the nastiest look. The guy sitting in the aisle seat of the exit row said, "I'll swap seats with you." So, the lucky couple got the middle seat and the aisle seat in the exit row.

    Everybody thought that I was the Bad Guy in this scenario. Fuck Them! What?! I'm supposed to give up the cherry window exit seat because Timmy and Chantal booked their tickets on Expedia and didn't think to reserve two seats together? I don't think so!

  3. #3
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    I was in a booking "situation" in San José, which occurred due to several delayed/cancelled flights. I was speaking with a fellow traveler at a hotel in downtown San José. He was heading to the airport that morning. We were both booked on the same flight. I tried to tell him, "You're not getting any help from the ticket desk at SJO. You're wasting your time." He ignored me and headed to the airport, anyway.

    He came back to the hotel about 5 hours later, with a new ticket in hand. I showed him my printed boarding pass for a flight 2 days earlier than his... in First Class. I told him, "I booked this ticket over the phone with the Customer Service Department. I was already on an 'M' ticket, so there was no way that you were getting out earlier than me on your 'U' ticket... and heading to the airport was a complete waste of time."

    To this very day, I seriously doubt that he has a clue what I was talking about.
    Last edited by Speedy1; 09-03-2016 at 09:19 AM.

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    Is it OK to disturb an aisle-seat passenger (or middle-seat passenger) to go to the restroom? Yes. If you don't want to be disturbed, then sit in a window seat. However, it's not cool for "weak bladders" to intentionally sit in window seats, disturbing their fellow passengers every 30 minutes for bathroom breaks.

    During the boarding process... if you're a family sitting together, or if you're a single traveler in a window seat... get to the front of the queue. Get to your seat(s), get your bags stowed, and get in your seat(s). Boarding will go a lot faster.

    If the rules say that you have to turn off your cellphone or other electronic device... then you have to turn it off. It's not up to the Flight Attendant to grant you an exemption from the rule. The law says that the airplane can't take off until your device is turned off. If you don't like the law... Write Your Congressman. It is illegal for the airplane to take off if your device is still on.

    Crying babies are a fact of life. Personally, I don't think that infants should be allowed in First Class or Business Class sections of airliners, particularly on long-haul flights... but, guess what? I don't make the rules. It's perfectly legal for crying babies to be seated in First Class and Business Class. Bring earplugs or noise-blocking earphones, and use them. Write to the airline's customer-service department to complain. Other than that, there is nothing that you can do about it.

    *note on the crying baby issue... Inconsiderate parents are one thing, but crying babies are quite another. There is very little that a parent can do to quiet a crying infant, so don't hold that against the parent(s). On the other hand, parent(s) should be extremely careful about taking an infant on an airline flight. My very own personal introduction to air travel was as an infant. Unfortunately, infants can't communicate their discomfort, so everyone is left guessing why the infant (in this case, ME) is crying. Also, infants don't understand how to "equalize" rapid changes in air pressure, such as those which occur during airline flight. As a direct result of my first flight on an airliner, I have permanent hearing loss, due to an ear blockage/barotrauma. Parents who take infants on airline flights risk causing permanent damage to the hearing and ENT areas of their children. Children should NOT travel on airliners until they are able to communicate and understand the dangers associated with air travel, unless absolutely necessary.

    Overhead Bins: Learn how to use them properly. If you travel frequently, then you should travel with a bag that is designed to fit in airline overhead bins. Try this... Put your bag in the bin on the Other Side of the airplane, instead of directly over your head. When your fellow passenger questions this, suggest that he put his bag in "your" bin. It's a TON easier to grab your bag from the Opposite-side bin when de-planing. Once you get used to this, you'll never go back to the "Old Way."

    If you travel frequently to a particular International Destination (such as Costa Rica), grab a couple of extra Immigration and Customs forms on a visit. You'll always have pre-filled forms ready to go, before you even board the flight. Bonus: When the Flight Attendants announce that they don't have any forms on board, you'll be the first person at Immigration and Customs, because you already have your forms filled out.

  5. #5
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    Ticos live, breathe, eat, and die for their kids. There is Absolutely Nothing in Tico culture which is more important than children. If you see a long line at Immigration or Customs, and you're traveling with a child (about 6 years old or younger), request special handling. You'll get it.

    The "Child Thing" works both ways. If you're traveling with a minor child, and your spouse/other parent is not with you, you need to travel with notarized documents affirming your right/permission to travel with your kids. Costa Rica WILL detain your kids in government custody if you don't have the proper documentation with you.

    Costa Rica is a "Must Prove" State. You Must present Identification documentation upon demand by any Costa Rican governmental authority, including regular police. The Costa Rican government has instructed all Costa Rican law enforcement officers to accept photocopies of U.S. Passports as Identification (you must have a copy of the I.D. page, as well as a copy of the full page containing your most recent Entry Stamp). For purposes other than simple Identification, you may be required to present your actual Passport.

    *note... Persons visiting the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in Costa Rica should be aware that the U.S. Consulate (American Citizen Services Unit) is NOT considered to be U.S. Territory. In fact, you will immediately notice that the officers present in this section of the Embassy are all Costa Rican. Costa Rican citizens may freely enter and exit this area after passing a basic security check. Identification will NOT be verified as a condition of entry into this area.

    All airliners leaving Costa Rica on a non-stop or discrete direct flight to the USA are subject to additional U.S. Department of Homeland Security requirements. Practically speaking, this means that passengers boarding flights bound for the USA will undergo additional security screening prior to boarding. The Costa Rican government is currently engaged in negotiations with the USA for inclusion in both the CBP preclearance program and the Global Entry/Trusted Traveler program.

    SJO is designated by the U.S. DOT/FAA as a "Special Pilot-in-Command Qualification" airport. As a passenger, you have the right to see proof, upon demand, that your pilot-in-command is qualified to fly into and out of SJO. With major airlines, consider this to be a non-issue.

  6. #6
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    The most important rule of any social situation is, of course, "Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You." -- the 'Golden Rule'

    I like to believe that most people do, in fact adhere to this rule. However, not all people adhere to the Golden Rule within the same context as everyone else. Here's an example of what I mean...

    About 3 years ago, I was seated in the First Class section of a United Airlines flight from Houston to San José. There were also Four (4) young 20-something males seated in the First Class section. They were obviously going to Costa Rica to "Get Their Party On", whereas I was just going home after a very long and tiring 2-week business trip to the USA.

    For the next 3.5 hours, I was treated to the continuous chorus of "Tango India!", while these four guys did shots of whatever liquor the flight attendants would serve them.

    Believe me... I LOVE it when people come to Costa Rica to have a good time. At least one of these guys had visited CR in the past, and was taking all of his buddies to Tango India. That's perfectly FINE with me, although Tango India certainly wouldn't be my first choice of places to visit in CR. Nevertheless, it made these guys happy, and More Power To 'Em! However, neither I nor the other passengers were interested in being a part of their 3+ hour monger-fest. We didn't care what those guys were doing in CR, we would just have immensely appreciated it if we were not forced to be a part of it. Hell, on another day, I might have been happy to join them... but I didn't want to be FORCED to join them. Think about that, any time that you try to engage a fellow passenger(s) aboard an airliner.

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    Sometimes... Nobody is on your side. No matter what you do, no matter how polite you are, nobody will sympathize with you, and not even the flight attendants will assist you in settling your concerns with your fellow passengers.

    That's when you have to take matters into your own hands. Now... There is a fine line between "retaliation" and "jail time", so you have to be careful with this one. My personal favorite is one that you really can't get in trouble for, especially considering the air pressure changes that occur during flight.

    This is what I like to call "The Massive Fart." When nobody will address the kid kicking your seat or the obnoxious armrest-hogger, it's time to pull out the Big Guns. This one works especially well during meal service. After politely asking someone to respect the etiquette of flight, several times, I'll usually just give the appearance of "giving up." When the flight attendant sets the tray in front of my seatmate or the kid kicking my seat... I Shit My Pants! It pretty much ruins the flight for everyone, but what can they say? If they start in on me, I'll say something like, "I have IBS! Are you discriminating against me because of my unfortunate medical condition?"

    One that I use especially for the kids is my "Advanced English Class", in which I teach the kids a few new words while no one else is listening or watching... "Mommy? What's a 'Cunt?' "

  8. #8
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    In reference to my previous post, I would like to say that 99% of the time, people tend to be very reasonable when you confront them with an issue on an airliner. Very few people turn out to be true assholes. When a kid is kicking my seat, I'll just turn around and say to the parent, "That seat-kicking is really disturbing me. Would you please ask your child to stop doing that?" The response is usually "Absolutely. I'm sorry about that."

    I only pull out the "Retaliation" responses when all other avenues have been exhausted. That's pretty rare.

    I truly believe that a lot of this "Air Rage" stuff could have been defused if someone would have just said, "That's really annoying. Could you please stop doing that?"

  9. #9
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    Never forget... If you're on an International Flight, you may be prosecuted under the laws of whichever country you happen to be flying over at the time. For example, you might not want to force a landing due to your drunken rage on a flight from Europe to Australia, while you're in the airspace of an Islamic country. You might be allowed to return to the country of origin to face charges... but then again, you might not. International flights can involve the laws of the country of origin, the country of destination, the flag country of the airline, and any of the countries in whose airspace you fly, as well as "international law"... international agreements regarding airline transportation. Basically, a can of worms that you definitely do not want to open.

    The basic rule of International Law is... NEVER assume anything. Especially, never assume that the laws of another country are the same as yours, no matter how "common sense" you think those laws are. Here's a good example...

    In the USA, any child born on U.S. soil, or even in U.S. airspace (such as in an airplane overflying the USA) is automatically a U.S. Citizen. Is that true in Costa Rica? No. It is not. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and its interpretation by the courts in accordance with the principle of "jus soli" form the basis of U.S. law in this regard. But Costa Rican law doesn't see things quite the same way.

    In Costa Rica, in order for a child to Automatically be a Costa Rican citizen, the child Must be born within Costa Rican territory AND at least one parent must be a Costa Rican citizen. So, if you are a foreigner and your spouse is a foreigner, your child, born right here in Costa Rica, is NOT automatically a Costa Rican citizen. However, your child can become a Costa Rican citizen upon your request, simply by properly "registering" the birth of the child. But think carefully before you do that... Once you have registered your child's birth and had him/her declared a Costa Rican citizen, you can't take it back. Costa Rican law has no concept of "Renouncing" citizenship. Once you're a Costa Rican citizen, there is no way to become NOT a Costa Rican citizen. Under Costa Rican law, citizenship can neither be renounced nor revoked. In addition, no Costa Rican citizen may be exiled or expelled from Costa Rica, under any circumstances.

    The biggest issue in this regard is Costa Rica's obsessive/compulsive protection of minor children. If your child is declared a Costa Rican citizen, traveling internationally with that child is a huge pain-in-the-ass. Even if the child is traveling with both parents, the child cannot leave Costa Rica until both parents... together... in person... sign an "Exit Permit" at the Costa Rican Immigration Headquarters, and then present that permit to Immigration Officers at the exit point, when they leave Costa Rica with the child. For this reason, many parents choose to NOT register their child's birth for Costa Rican citizenship. The child may still become a Costa Rican citizen, upon request, between his 18th and 25th birthday. It is far easier for everyone if the child "claims" his Costa Rican citizenship when he becomes an adult, for travel purposes.

  10. #10
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Despite what they might think, most visitors to Costa Rica have never been issued a "Visa" by the Costa Rican government. The Entry Stamp in your Passport is similar to what other countries call "Landing Permission" or "Entry Permission." A "Visa" implies specific permission, whereas an "Entry Stamp" implies "Lack of Denial" or "Tacit Approval." Basically, a Costa Rican entry stamp means "we're letting you enter CR, but we can also kick you out anytime that we want, for no reason whatsoever." Kicking someone out of CR who has a Visa would have certain international repercussions. Kicking someone out who just has an entry stamp has exactly zero repercussions. On the other hand, short of being kicked out for criminal activity, being kicked out on just an entry stamp means that there are no repercussions for the stamp holder, either. In other words, being denied future entry because you were kicked out (without cause) on a previous entry stamp would also have international repercussions. So... It works both ways. Costa Rica can't have their cake and eat it, too.

    There's no real concern here. This type of system is used by many countries. It's an easy way to handle large volumes of tourist traffic without all of the extra time and effort involved in actually researching and approving Visas.

    Costa Rican law requires a Passport which is "valid for the duration of the stay." Although I always recommend traveling with a Passport that is valid for at least 6 months, Costa Rica has no such requirement. A Passport which is valid for 8 days is perfectly fine for a 7-day trip. Once again, I wouldn't push that envelope, personally.

    An entry stamp is not guaranteed, and it does not have to be issued for 90 days. The law states "up to 90 days." I do have two 30-day stamps and one 10-day stamp in my old Passports. Practically speaking, you will receive a stamp for at least the duration of your visit, provided you can prove when you will be leaving Costa Rica. If you're on a round-trip airline ticket, the Immigration officer can already see when you're scheduled to leave CR on his/her computer. If you're a "perpetual tourist", then it's a good idea to purchase a fully-refundable one-way ticket out of CR, for about 85 days after your entry date. As soon as you clear Immigration, you can cancel the ticket for a full refund. I have never heard of anyone being granted a period less than what they can prove as an exit date, and I have never heard of anyone being denied an entry stamp without just cause. The most recent stated position of the Costa Rican government regarding "perpetual tourists" is (paraphrased)... "The law is the law. If the perpetual tourists comply with that law, then Costa Rica has no problem with the practice."

    It should go without saying that if you are a Costa Rican citizen, or if your child is a Costa Rican citizen, then you (or your child) is a Costa Rican citizen, and nothing else, while on Costa Rican soil. The U.S. government can't do anything for you (or your child) while you are on Costa Rican soil.

    What's up with the extra security check at the departure gate at the airport? As I mentioned earlier, that is mandated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for any non-stop flight and certain direct flights to the USA. I mention this again because I have had several people ask me, "How can the USA tell another country how to conduct its airport security?" The short answer is, "They Can't. The USA Cannot tell another country how to conduct its airport security."

    The natural response is, "Well... You just said that the extra security check is due to a U.S. regulation."

    My answer is, "Yes. That is exactly what I said."

    The person then says, "Well, how is that possible, then? You're contradicting yourself."

    I answer, "No, I'm not. Pay attention..."


    Costa Rica: We want to fly an airliner non-stop from Costa Rica to the USA.

    USA: OK, then you have to comply with our rules for security checks before the airplane departs Costa Rica.

    Costa Rica: You can't tell us how to conduct our airport security.

    USA: That's right. We can't tell you how to conduct your airport security. But we can tell you this... "You ain't flyin' any airplanes from Costa Rica to the USA."

    Costa Rica: But tourists from the USA account for over 10% of our economy.

    USA: I know that.

    Costa Rica: So... We do the security checks the way that you want them done, and then we can fly airplanes into the USA?

    USA: You learn fast.

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