(AP) In this Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, photo, Delta Air Lines passengers, who have purchased an upgrade to... Full Image
NEW YORK (AP) - Airlines are introducing a new bevy of fees, but this time passengers might actually like them.
Unlike the first generation of charges which dinged fliers for once-free
services like checking a bag, these new fees promise a taste of the
good life, or at least a more civil flight.
Extra legroom, early boarding and access to quiet lounges were just the
beginning. Airlines are now renting Apple iPads preloaded with movies,
selling hot first class meals in coach and letting passengers pay to
have an empty seat next to them. Once on the ground, they can skip
baggage claim, having their luggage delivered directly to their home or
In the near future, airlines plan to go one step further, using massive
amounts of personal data to customize new offers for each flier.
(AP) In this Wednesday, May 8, 2013, photo, United Airlines passengers board a flight using the Premier... Full Image
moved from takeaways to enhancements," says John F. Thomas of L.E.K.
Consulting. "It's all about personalizing the travel experience."
Carriers have struggled to raise airfares enough to cover costs. Fees
bring in more than $15 billion a year and are the reason the airlines
are profitable. But the amount of money coming in from older charges
like baggage and reservation change fees has plateaued. So the airlines
are selling new extras and copying marketing methods honed by retailers.
Technological upgrades allow airlines to sell products directly to
passengers at booking, in follow-up emails as trips approach, at
check-in and on mobile phones minutes before boarding. Delta Air Lines
recently gave its flight attendants wireless devices, allowing them to
sell passengers last-second upgrades to seats with more legroom.
And just like Amazon.com offers suggested readings based on each buyer's
past purchases, airlines soon will be able to use past behavior to
target fliers. "We have massive amounts of data," says Delta CEO Richard Anderson. "We
know who you are. We know what your history has been on the airline. We
can customize our offerings."
(AP) In this photo taken Wednesday, May 8, 2013, United Airlines passengers enjoy the United Club as... Full Image
airlines are experimenting with tracking passengers throughout the
airport. In the future, if somebody clears security hours before their
flight, they might be offered a discounted day pass to the airline's
lounge on their phone.
Airlines have yet to find the right balance between being helpful and
being creepy. So, for now, most of the data is being used to win back
passengers after their flight is delayed or luggage is lost.
"We want to get back to a point where people feel like travel isn't
something to endure, but something they can enjoy," says Bob Kupbens, a
former Target executive and Delta's current vice president of marketing
and digital commerce.
Most passengers select flights based on the lowest base fare. The online
travel industry plays up that price sensitivity with sites named
CheapOair.com, CheapTickets.com and InsanelyCheapFlights.com.
When airlines try to raise fares, they are met with resistance.
(AP) In this photo taken Wednesday, May 8, 2013, a United Airlines passenger chooses snacks in the... Full Image
are very quick to either change travel plans, or use another carrier or
not travel at all," says Jim Corridore, an airline analyst with
Standard & Poor's.
In the past three years, airlines have tried to hike fares 48 times,
according to FareCompare.com. During 29 of those attempts, bookings fell
enough that airlines abandoned the increase.
Most fares today don't cover the cost of flying. While the average
domestic roundtrip base fare has climbed 3 percent over the past decade
to $361.95, when adjusted for inflation, the price of jet fuel has
When oil prices spiked in 2008, airlines added checked baggage fees.
Passengers still bought tickets on the base price and didn't think about
the extra expense until the day of travel.
Now airlines are recasting fees as trip enhancements.
Travelers like Nadine Angress, of Mansfield, Mass., see the value. Her
recent late-night US Airways flight home landed past six-year-old son's
bedtime. She had to work early the next morning. So, for $30 she
bypassed the baggage carousel and had the suitcase delivered.
"That was a very reasonable price to pay," Angress says. "It's making your life easier."
U.S. airlines collect more than $6 billion a year in baggage and
reservation change fees. They also collect $9 billion more from selling
extras like frequent flier miles, early boarding and seat upgrades.
Together, the fees account for 10 percent U.S. airlines' revenue.
Fees provide airlines with another advantage: The Internal Revenue
Service has said since they aren't directly related to transporting
passengers, they aren't subject to the 7.5 percent excise tax travelers
pay on base fares. Taxing fees would give the government an extra $1.1
billion a year to fund the Federal Aviation Administration, runway
upgrades and air traffic control improvements.
Without the fees, experts say fares would be 15 percent higher.
"You're either going to go out of business or find a way to cover" your
costs, says Robert E. Jordan, Southwest Airlines' executive vice
president and chief commercial officer.
Southwest has held off charging for most checked bags. But it sells plenty of other add-ons.
Recently, it introduced a way for people at the back of the boarding
line on some flights to cut to the front for $40. It's not a blockbuster
seller - one person pays up every two flights - but with 3,600 daily
flights, that nets $70,000 in extra daily revenue or $25 million a year.
Airlines now alter fees based on demand. United Airlines used to sell
its Economy Plus extra legroom seats for one price per route. Today,
aisle seats cost more than middle seats; prices are higher on popular
That change in thinking has helped United increase fee revenue by 13 percent this year to more than $20 per one-way passenger.
Airlines are also starting to bundle items. Passengers purchase items
they might not necessarily buy alone; it also simplifies the dizzying
array of offers.
"I don't want you to have to do the math every time," says Rick E. Chat,
managing director of digital marketing at American Airlines.
American offers a package for $68 roundtrip that includes no change
fees, one checked bag and early boarding. Delta is experimenting with a
$199 subscription that includes a checked bag, early boarding, access to
exit row seats and extra frequent flier miles on all flights a
passenger takes between now and Jan. 5.
Airlines say the fees bring a sense of fairness to the system. Why
should a passenger with a small carry-on subsidize a family of four,
Jamie Baker, an airline analyst with JP Morgan Chase, likens it to a meal at a restaurant.
"The sides are not included in the price of a steak," he says. "Airline
ticket prices should reflect the costs incurred by the individual
Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at .http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott
IMPORTANT: We do not present our users with pop-ups or any other non-contextual advertising. Nor do we send email to our users. If you see or receive one of these items, it is coming from an outside source, either as a result of something you have previously downloaded or as an "exit" pop-up from the site you just visited. It is not coming from our site.
Perhaps even the Sun King himself appreciated the irony of his
secret tribunals being conducted in a court where daylight was not
permitted to penetrate. The sinister proceedings of the Chambre Ardente
took place in a room blanketed by thick black curtains in the depths of
the old Paris Arsenal a few blocks from the Bastille.
The so-called Burning Chamber, so-named for the flaming torches that
lined the walls and its victims who would later be set afire at the
stake, originated in 1535 under Francis I as an inquisitional court for
the prosecution of heretics. But the tribunal really kicked into lethal
gear during the reign of Frances’ demented son, Henry II.
Henry was one of the most depraved figures in an era known for its
regal brutality. He was, by all accounts, an insipid man, of limited
intellect and charm, a bigot and sexual sadist, who was driven by a
rabid hatred of the French Calvinists known as the Huguenots. Henry
viewed the Huguenots as a “foreign contagion” infecting the homeland,
and issued a series of increasingly severe Edicts calling on the
Parliament of Paris to enact laws that would extinguish the Protestant
threat. When the Parliament refused to act, Henry, enraged, moved on his
own authority, using the Chambre Ardente as his covert prosecutorial
Before the sequestered judges of the secret court, all suspects were
presumed guilty, awaiting only sentencing. Calvinist books and Bibles
were proscribed. Thousands were cast into dungeons, their property
seized as property of the king, their bodies subjected to vile tortures:
gouged eyes, cropped ears, tongues extracted by glowing pliers—the
usual menu of medieval atrocities. The condemned were carted away by the
hundreds to the Place Maubert and set ablaze for the edification of the
In 1559, Henry’s grim tenure as king came to a fortuitously abrupt
end at the point of Gabriel Montgomery’s lance on the jousting field at
Place de Vosges. Montgomery was the head of the King’s Scots Guard, a
kind of death squad geared toward tracking down and dispatching
suspected Protestants and Henry’s political opponents. After Henry died
in 1559, the Chambre Ardente was shuttered and Montgomery, now a pariah
in France, fled to England and converted to Protestantism.
For 115 years, the doors of the black-curtained court in the Arensal
remained sealed, until the Le Roi du Soleil ordered the doors opened,
the terrible tables of judgment dusted off and oiled, and his own
private prosecutor installed, the indefatigable Nicolas de La Reynie,
the inspector Jauvert of his time.
Under Louis XIV’s reign, the Chambre Ardente was retooled a kind of
personal inquisitional court, where scores were settled, detentions
ordered, suspects interrogated and tortured, executions decreed. Between
1675 and 1682, more than 210 sessions of the black court were convened.
Hundreds of arrest warrants and seizure writs were executed. All in
secret, immune from the unpredictable pronouncements of juries and
jurists. The Chambre Ardente was a place where all verdicts were
pre-ordained, with no right to appeal.
Confessions, of course, are always desirable, especially by despots,
and as a means of encouragement the so-called water-cure (and early
predecessor of water-boarding) was often deployed by agents of the dark
court. In one notorious case, a certain Madame de Brinvilliers was force
fed sixteen pints of water, until she admitted her guilt. She was
subsequently beheaded, her corpse torched at the stake.
The most infamous proceedings of the dark court during this period
involved what is known as the Affair of the Poisons, a sex-and-murder
driven scandal involving members of the aristocracy and Parisian elites
very close to the King himself. To keep, from implicating Versailles,
Louis instructed the Chambre Ardente to institute secret round-up of
problematic individuals, including political and sexual rivals,
abortionists, homosexuals, and manufacturers of what was called the
inheritance drugs (ie, poison). At least thirty-six people were
executed. Even the dramatist Racine narrowly escaped being shackled in
the dungeon of the Bastille. The strange saga is given a vivid narration
in Nancy Mitford’s delightful “The Sun King,” recently brought back into print by NYRB Press.
Some of the objects Louis’ vengeance proved too sensitive even to be
hauled before the Chambre Attendre. In these cases, the King used an
even more malign method of disposing of his rivals, enemies and
political opponents, the Lettre de Cachet. By writ of the King,
individuals could be arrested, exiled and secretly jailed without any
trial at all. This was an early form of rendition that wasn’t abolished
until after the French Revolution.
More than any other autocratic European ruler since Caesar Augustus,
Louis put the total into totalitarian, a divinely-infused absolutism
that is crystallized in his infamous quip “L’etat c’est moi.” In other
words, whatever the King did was legal by definition. Yet, Louis
Quatorze was widely regarded as a benign dictator, even by fierce
critics of the Ancien Regime, including Voltaire himself.
Now we have our very own Sun King, a man almost universally praised
for his high-learning and enlightened moral conscience. And, like the
Bourbon monarch, Barack Obama too has his own dark court, an
extrajudicial panel that operates in secret, authorizes domestic spying,
wiretaps, detentions, renditions and even summary executions by drone
Obama’s FISA tribunals are a Constitution-free zone. Its proceedings
are shielded from public light by executive decree. Here, as in the
ancient Chambre Arendte, all suspects are presumed guilty and the agents
of the state are considered omniscient and omnipotent. Last year alone,
the FISA courts considered 1,800 requests for surveillance on American
citizens. Not one request was denied.
The Left remains nearly inert to the steady accretion of executive
powers and the stunning abridgement of fundamental civil liberties. The
basic structures of our democracy are being occluded by the creeping
shadow of a benign autocrat.
The Republic descends into darkness. JEFFREY ST. CLAIR is the editor of CounterPunch and the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature, Grand Theft Pentagon and Born Under a Bad Sky. His latest book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion. He can be reached at: email@example.com. This essay originally appeared in the July issue of CounterPunch magazine.
In his conduct of the office of
President of the United States, Barack H. Obama, aka Barry Soetoro
Punahou '79, personally and through his subordinates and agents, in
violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens and in
violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be
faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the
administration of justice, in that:
He has covered up, delayed, impeded and obstructed the investigation of the Benghazi Battle.
conduct includes: (1) failing to adequately secure the US Consulate and
the CIA annex in Benghazi; (2) failing to send a response team to
rescue embattled US citizens in Benghazi; (3) lying to the American
people about why the US Consulate and the CIA annex were attacked in
Benghazi; and (3) hiding from the media and congressional investigators
the Central Intelligence Agency personnel and other wounded US citizens
who were on the ground in Benghazi by scattering them throughout the
United States, forcing them to adopt new identities and subjecting them
to monthly polygraph tests.
Benghazi Battle elements that are under investigation:
September 11, 2012, the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, the US
Consulate and the CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya was targeted in a
premeditated, preplanned attack launched without warning by Islamist
Footage of the attack broadcast in real time showed
armed men attacking the consulate with rocket-propelled grenades, hand
grenades, assault rifles, 14.5 mm anti-aircraft machine guns, truck
mounted artillery, diesel canisters, and mortars. It was not an act of
savage mob violence, nor a spontaneous protest in response to an
anti-Islamic video on YouTube.
In that attack, four American
citizens were killed: US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens; Information
Officer Sean Smith; and two embassy security personnel, Glen Doherty
and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALs. Ambassador Stevens is the
first U.S. ambassador killed in an attack since Adolph Dubs was killed
He has disclosed secret grand jury
material by exposing the existence of a sealed indictment of one of the
Benghazi attackers in violation of Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of
Criminal Procedure that clearly states: "... no person may disclose the
indictment's existence except as necessary to issue or execute a warrant
He has authorized and permitted
the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a division of
the Justice Department, to conduct Operation Fast and Furious with money
laundered through HSBC and the United States Department of Justice
Asset Forfeiture Fund, wherein guns were sold to Mexican drug
trafficking organizations that were used to kill innocent Mexican
civilians and wherein two rifles sold to a smuggler in January 2010,
ended up at the scene of the murder (wrongful death) of U.S. Border
Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010. He has rewarded Fast and
Furious and other corrupt operatives with a share of the $1.9 billion
paid by HSBC into the Asset Forfeiture Fund; in the custody of Kristine
Marcy and Eric Holder since 1984.
authorized and permitted confidential income tax returns information
from the Internal Revenue Service to be provided to unauthorized
individuals, organizations and agencies.
Sec. 1959. Violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity
(a) Whoever, as consideration for the receipt of, or as consideration
for a promise or agreement to pay, anything of pecuniary value from an
enterprise engaged in racketeering activity, or for the purpose of
gaining entrance to or maintaining or increasing position in an
enterprise engaged in racketeering activity, murders, kidnaps, maims,
assaults with a dangerous weapon, commits assault resulting in serious
bodily injury upon, or threatens to commit a crime of violence against
any individual in violation of the laws of any State or the United
States, or attempts or conspires so to do, shall be punished—
(1) for murder, by death or life imprisonment, or a fine under this
title, or both; and for kidnapping, by imprisonment for any term of
years or for life, or a fine under this title, or both;
(2) for maiming, by imprisonment for not more than thirty years or a fine under this title, or both;
(3) for assault with a dangerous weapon or assault resulting in
serious bodily injury, by imprisonment for not more than twenty years or
a fine under this title, or both;
(4) for threatening to commit a crime of violence, by imprisonment for
not more than five years or a fine under this title, or both;
(5) for attempting or conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping, by
imprisonment for not more than ten years or a fine under this title, or
(6) for attempting or conspiring to commit a crime involving maiming,
assault with a dangerous weapon, or assault resulting in serious bodily
injury, by imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine of 
under this title, or both.
(b) As used in this section—
(1) "racketeering activity" has the meaning set forth in section 1961 of this title; and
(2) "enterprise" includes any partnership, corporation, association,
or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated
in fact although not a legal entity, which is engaged in, or the
activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce.
 So in original. The word "of" probably should not appear.
Sec. 1593A. Benefitting financially from peonage, slavery, and trafficking in persons
Whoever knowingly benefits, financially or by receiving anything of
value, from participation in a venture which has engaged in any act in
violation of section 1581 (a), 1592, or 1595 (a), knowing or in
reckless disregard of the fact that the venture has engaged in such
violation, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned in the same
manner as a completed violation of such section.
Now tell me if this doesn't sound like what all govts do by default.