Trip Coach: November 13, 2007 Richard Havers and Chris Tiffney, co-authors of 'Airline Confidential: Lifting the Lid on the Airline Industry,' answered your questions about what goes on behind the scenes on airplanes. Budget Travel Tuesday, Nov 13, 2007, 4:09 PM Budget Travel LLC, 2016


Trip Coach: November 13, 2007

Richard Havers and Chris Tiffney, co-authors of 'Airline Confidential: Lifting the Lid on the Airline Industry,' answered your questions about what goes on behind the scenes on airplanes.

Richard Havers and Chris Tiffney: Hi, this is Richard Havers & Chris Tiffney and we're sitting in front of a log fire on a very cold Scottish winter's evening. it's the sort of day that makes you want to fly off somewhere warm.

We're looking forward to answering as many questions as we can.


Rosebank, Scotland: I was asked by US Airways if my wife and I would be willing to delay our departure by 1 day and they said we would receive money, hotel, food vouchers and first class seats on all our flights from Glasgow, Scotland to Spokane, Washington. Even though we were told we were in first class when checking in we found that we were, in fact, in economy. We have sent letters and emails about US Airway reneging on their offer to us, plus the outright lies and rudeness of no less than 6 of their agents. Their response is that we have already agreed to compensation. We have never agreed to anything but what was intially offered. We have asked to see with whom, where and on what date this supposed agreement was made but they refuse to give us those details. We also have a fellow passenger who can corroborate most of the details that we claim. Could you advise to where we should go from here? It would be much appreciated!

Richard Havers and Chris Tiffney: Always a tricky thing complaining. However We'd advise checking out the Airliner Users Committee. It's the best place we know to start the ball rolling.


Venice, Fla.: It's often cheaper to buy two coach seats than a single first class seat. I have often wondered about buying an entire three seat row for me and my husband on long flights, to Hawaii for example. Is this legal? Then we know we would have some extra room and neither one of us would be stuck in a middle seat. Should I just say I'm overweight and need two seats in one name? However when I check in would there be a problem because I only really weigh 120 pounds?

Richard Havers and Chris Tiffney: You can buy the whole plane if you like! The only problem we can see is if you don't get your three seats together


St Petersburg, Fla.: Many times I have seen airline employees flying in first class on a less than full plane. Why do not the airlines offer these same seats to paying customers for a last minute surcharge, such as $25 to $50 for willing passengers? Seems to me they are squandering opportunities for additional revenue. No, I am NOT willing to pay $100 or more dollars for an upgrade, but something ($25+) is better than nothing for the airlines.

Richard Havers and Chris Tiffney: This is the eternal debate within airlines as to how on earth to get First Class fares at the level that keeps demand high and yields much more revenue. The problem becomes that all the people who pay the low surcharge end up bragging about it on board and tick off the people who've paid top dollar. When I was in the airline industry I always thought too many non-revs flew up front, and it denigrated the product.


Takoma Park, Md.: What is the best and quickest way to guarantee that, when a flight is delayed for several hours, a ticket holder will be able to schedule an alternative flight on another airline? I understand that too often only those who know their rights actually get the service they're entitled to.

Richard Havers and Chris Tiffney: We increasingly live in a world where knowing your rights is key to just about everything. Of course there's also the question of whether your ticket is flexible or not. We'd certainly advise checking the small print before you book and then re-read it before you fly. There's no question delays are going to get more not less.


San Diego, Calif.: I've had my luggage lost a couple times when transferring flights. What steps can I take to prevent that in the future (aside from carrying-on only) and if it does happen again, what's the best way to maximize compensation from the airline?

Richard Havers and Chris Tiffney: Check out for a start. It won't stop bags from going missing but it'll sure help to get them back. Other than that, always try and book on non-stop point to point flights whenever you can. The compensation is governed by international rules and regulations so our advice would be don't pack too much Gucci.


Houston, Tex.: How do airlines determine the price of a seat? What can I do to get the lowest priced seat?

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