US Air, Stop the Lies

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November 12, 2010

US Airways
ATTN: Customer Relations
4000 E Sky Harbor Blvd
Phoenix, AZ 85034

RE: Case # US-10MURATORE-L36P03

Dear Sir or Madam:

In a letter dated Nov 3rd, Jan Fitz stated that there were no concessions that US Air was willing to make regarding my trip to California in December. I received the letter on Nov 8th, and received a call from a representative named Cheryl on the afternoon of Nov 9th. Cheryl was very polite and stated that US Air would in fact waive the change ticket fee of $150. She also connected me to Reservations and I did change my ticket so that I will now be flying out of the nearest airport without a scanner.

For the privilege of not having my natural human right to protection of my own body violated, I am being charged by your company an extra $90, paying to rent a car and child seat one-way, will be driving 4 hours, and will be flying an additional 3 hours including an additional layover. I hope you can see why I find Cheryl’s new offer unsatisfactory, and I told her that when I spoke with her.

The letter that Jan Fitz wrote to me says: "US Airways likes to ensure the safest trip possible for all of our passengers." I don’t know whether Jan is lying or just very poorly informed, and it certainly does not seem like she read my initial letter. US Airways, and all of the other airlines, has ceded control of passenger safety slowly over the last 40 years, and at an accelerated pace in the last decade. You have ceded control to a government bureaucracy, which, by its very nature is inclined to be wasteful, incompetent, and corrupt. How is this at all consistent with ensuring passenger safety?

Cheryl started her conversation with me by saying that she understood my concern about the scanner. I would like to repeat here what I told her: I seriously doubt that she understands my concern. If she did, I would not be offered a mere pittance of a waiver of the penalty fee for changing my ticket. In a letter dated Nov 6th, I shared how deep my concern is rooted: I was in tears last weekend as I contemplated the corner that the airline industry has backed me into. I must either become a victim of voyeurism or become a victim of sexual assault in order to take my daughter to see her grandparents, great aunt, great uncle, and great grandmother for Christmas. Not only that, but I have to make the same choice for my child. I absolutely will not allow either of us to be victims of abuse.

At this time, it appears that there are three airports each about a four hour drive from my home which are unlikely to force this choice on me by virtue of not having scanners. I live near Washington, DC, so there are actually five airports that are significantly closer to my house that I now cannot patronize. Since the TSA plans to double the number of airport scanners next year, I expect that I will soon be unable to fly at all. I certainly will not fly US Air in the future if you do not make some swift changes in your actions regarding your customer’s rights.

Cheryl also tried to explain to me that we live in a society which makes such abuses necessary. It is very important to me that everyone at US Air recognizes that we actually live in a society grounded in human rights with a Constitutional protection against warrantless searches of our persons and property.

Here is my proposal: your company and Orbitz (to whom I am sending a similar letter) can figure out a way to return the extra $90 that I have been charged for having dignity, and also figure out a way to cover my car rental and gas expenses for the four hour trek to a semi-civilized airport. I find it laughable that both your and Orbitz’s customer service departments claim that they unable to honor this request. You both have the ability to offer discounts, vouchers, and cash for such expenses, and I fully expect you to do so. I do not care which company does so and how.

As before, I will be making this letter and your response public. So far, thousands of people have been following my case, and I expect the number to continue to grow as public opinion about the airline industry continues to turn. Your own pilots’ union has come out against the latest TSA procedures! I am also CC’ing the CEO’s of both US Air and Orbitz on their respective letters in the unlikely event that they are unaware of the damage that has been self-inflicted on each of their company’s bottom lines by the decades of cronyism and complicity in violating passengers’ rights.

Sincerely,

Kathryn Muratore
cc: William Douglas Parker, CEO

Kathryn Muratore [send her mail] is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at American University. She holds a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley. Visit her blog protesting the TSA’s naked scanners.

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