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"Who's REALLY Flying Your Plane?"; Flight 3407 Families Launch Regional Airline Awareness Campaign in the Midst of Holiday Travel Season PDF Print E-mail

Demand That All Ticket Agencies, Websites Comply with New Federal Law Requiring Full Disclosure of Regional Carriers

Buffalo, New York- December 2, 2010 – Turning their attention from getting major aviation safety legislation passed to getting it implemented, the 'Families of Continental Flight 3407' announced the kickoff of a major public outreach effort aimed at raising the flying public's awareness of regional airlines operating flights under the auspices of the mainline carriers. The campaign also targets airlines, ticketing agents, and websites that are not complying with a new federal regulation requiring transparency in the advertisement of regional carriers.

"We are planning to reach out to thousands of our family members, friends, supporters of our cause, and the general flying public to spread the word about this critical initiative," stated Susan Bourque, of East Aurora, New York, who lost her sister, prominent 9/11 widow and activist Beverly Eckert, on Flight 3407. "For the many Americans who only buy one plane ticket all year to be with their families during the holidays, we want to make absolutely certain that they are aware that even though they may buy a ticket on the Continental website, check in at the Continental ticket counter, and board a plane painted in Continental colors, that they very well may be on a flight operated by Colgan Air, and that may have consequences from a safety standpoint. That is the tragedy that befell Beverly and all of the other victims of Flight 3407, and we are determined to ensure that this never happens again."

The above-referenced legislation (which is included at the bottom of this release) calls for the full disclosure of the regional carrier operating every flight segment of a given itinerary, and in particular targets Internet sites that do not disclose this information on the initial listing of any flight in a manner 'that is easily visible to a viewer'. It had the full support of the Western New York congressional delegation, as it was initially introduced in the Senate in June 2009 by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and co-sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), and Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK). This provision was then included in the landmark 'Airline Safety and Pilot Training Improvement Act of 2009', which was introduced by the bipartisan leadership of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and its Aviation Subcommittee, with the Western New York House delegation of Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY-26), Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY-27), and Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY-28) all signing on as original co-sponsors. It was part of legislation that was finally signed into law by President Obama on August 1st of this year.

"Between now and Christmas, we are asking every traveler to take an extra moment of their time to investigate their ticketing vendor of choice, whether it be an 800 number, an internet website, or a travel agent, and to pay close attention to whether the regional carrier is being promptly and completely identified " declared John Kausner of Clarence Center, New York, who lost his twenty-four year old daughter Ellyce. "Seemingly the only way we can get the major carriers like Continental to pay closer attention to the safety practices of their regional partners like Colgan is if customers become more aware of these regional airlines who may have less desirable safety records and start to adjust their ticket purchasing decisions accordingly."

The group has already begun to identify some ticketing agencies and websites that are not fully transparent in the manner in which they identify the regional carriers. They are planning a second phase of the campaign where concerned travelers will be asked to call in to the Department of Transportation's Consumer Complaint Hotline, which they hope will generate pressure to comply and possibly fines for those vendors not in compliance. Further details can be found on the group's website, www.3407memorial.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@3407familes).

"The goal of our efforts in Washington has been to change the system so that one day, there truly will be no difference in safety whether a passenger boards a mainline or regional carrier," stated Scott Maurer of Moore, South Carolina, who lost his thirty year old daughter Lorin. "But that is still years down the road, and in the meantime, we have to make sure that all passengers know exactly which carrier is operating their flight and what that might mean safety-wise. We are calling on the Orbitz's and Travelocity's of the world to help us accomplish that mission, and as always, we are prepared to make noise if that is not being done."

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