Passenger carried gun onto international Delta flight from Atlanta, report says

The Transportation Security Administration on Sunday confirmed reports that an armed passenger managed to board an international Delta flight from Atlanta to Tokyo, but the agency insisted that the partial government shutdown had nothing to do with the error.
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TV special glosses over the truth behind JFK Jr.’s doomed flight

This year marks the 20th anniversary of John F. Kennedy Jr.’s fatal flight. Three days in and already the hagiographic retellings have begun. “The Last Days of JFK Jr.,” a two-hour special promising new details and new interviews under the ABC News banner, aired Thursday night. Not only did the program soft-pedal Kennedy’s complete and…
Opinion | New York Post

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Portuguese airline Hi Fly has world’s first ‘plastic-free’ flight: ‘It’s the right thing for the airline to be doing’

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http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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Third prototype of China’s C919 jet completes first test flight

A third prototype of China’s home-built C919 narrowbody passenger jet completed its first test flight on Friday, its manufacturer said, in another step forward in the nation’s push to become a global civil aerospace player.


Reuters: Arts

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12.27.18 Flight cancellations and what to do; Are credit card annual fees worth it?

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Massachusetts Stroke Patient Receives ‘Outrageous’ $474,725 Medical Flight Bill

Kristina Cunningham was in stable condition on an evening in June, when EMTs lifted her gurney into a medical flight, bound for Boston.

The 34-year-old couldn’t use her right arm or speak clearly after a stroke six days earlier, and still had two blood clots at the base of her brain. Cunningham’s dad, Jim Royer, remembers doctors at the small hospital in Wichita, Kan., where Cunningham had attended a family wedding, saying she needed to see a neurosurgeon.

“There was discussion of flying her to St. Louis, there was discussion of flying her to Chicago, there was discussion of flying her to Dallas,” Royer recalled, but “we don’t have family in any of those locations.”

So the doctors arranged to transfer Cunningham, via an Angel MedFlight Learjet, to Massachusetts General Hospital, where she would be diagnosed with a rare blood vessel disease of the brain. MGH is about an hour from Cunningham’s home in Berlin, Mass. — and her 7-year-old son. Cunningham’s doctors and her insurer, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, based in Maryland, agreed the transfer was medically necessary.

“We assumed it would be [covered],” Royer said, “because it was supposedly preapproved by the insurer before any flight took place.”

Royer said he and Cunningham didn’t think about the Angel MedFlight piece of her health scare again until a letter arrived in August. It was a one-page “explanation of benefits” with a jaw-dropping total in a column labeled “other amounts not covered.”
“When I got the bill for $ 474,725, I’m thinking six or seven flights, and you can buy a whole new jet,” Royer said with a wry laugh.

That nearly half-million dollars is the total of four items, the largest of which is a per-mile charge. That figure, $ 389,125, breaks down to $ 275 a mile.

“It’s larger than any surprise medical bill I’ve personally seen,” said Chuck Bell, program director for the advocacy division at Consumer Reports. “It’s really outrageous.”

In a study last year, Consumer Reports detailed some of the reasons excessively high air ambulance bills have become more common. Use of air ambulances is rising as more rural hospitals close, baby boomers age and the use of telemedicine increases.

“The industry has really grown by leaps and bounds over the last 15 years and prices have doubled or tripled,” Bell said. “Most of the operators of air ambulances now are for-profit, Wall Street-type corporations reporting very large profits to investors.”

The Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS), a trade group, counters that it is not unique, that many hospitals and health insurers across the country are also for-profit and that some are owned by private equity firms.

AAMS said a key reason bills for patients with private insurance plans are often high is this: Companies have to make up for the money they lose transporting other patients.

“Medicare pays about 60 percent of the cost of the flight. Medicaid pays 35 percent or less. Self-paid patients pay a few cents on the dollar. And that has led to a crisis of being able to sustain the service,” Christopher Eastlee, AAMS vice president for government relations, said in a statement, stressing that he has cost data only for emergency helicopter transports, not jets like the one in which Cunningham traveled.

In 2018, Medicare paid $ 8.65 per mile for a fixed-wing aircraft like the Learjet that transported Cunningham. That’s a stark contrast to Angel MedFlight’s $ 275 charge per mile. There are no guidelines for determining reasonable charges in this case.

Cunningham’s insurer, CareFirst, initially paid $ 14,304.55, leaving about $ 460,420 unpaid. In Massachusetts, a ground-based ambulance could not demand that Cunningham pay the balance, as state law doesn’t allow so-called balance billing. But air ambulances are governed by federal aviation laws. There are numerous cases of companies demanding payments from patients. A few states have tried to intervene but been unsuccessful, with courts saying that federal law prevails.

Cunningham has been focused on recovering her speech and preparing for surgery. In January, she will meet with her doctors to decide which type of surgery they recommend for removing or bypassing the blood clots at the base of her brain.

But Cunningham and her father have another worry: what the mail may bring.
“I don’t know, we’ll see,” Cunningham said, with a shrug.

“It’s a big bill to be sitting out there wondering what’s going on,” said Royer, who contacted KHN-NPR’s Bill of the Month on his daughter’s behalf. “It would force her into bankruptcy.”

Angel MedFlight COO Andrew Bess told WBUR the company is negotiating with CareFirst and will not demand payment from Cunningham.

“We’re quite confident we’ll come to a clear resolution despite the insurer placing the patient in the middle of the dispute,” said Bess.

Royer said it was a letter from Angel MedFlight that sounded threatening. As he read it, the company told Cunningham she must sign over the rights for Angel MedFlight to negotiate with CareFirst or risk being held liable if the insurer did not pay. Cunningham signed the request.

Bell, with Consumer Reports, said agreeing to such terms can be risky. Some air ambulance companies ask for detailed information about the patient’s personal finances, information they then use to determine how much the patient can pay if the insurance reimbursement is deemed inadequate.

During inquiries for this story, CareFirst told WBUR it would increase the proposed payment to Angel MedFlight. The insurer said it had discovered an error in its initial reimbursement to Angel MedFlight. CareFirst is now proposing to pay $ 70,864.90, or about one-seventh of the original charge.

“Unfortunately, exorbitant charges like these by air ambulance providers are not uncommon,” said Scott Graham, a spokesman for CareFirst, in an email. “This is an issue because companies like Angel MedFlight typically do not contract with health insurers on negotiated rates.”

WBUR forwarded this update to Bess, who called it a “meaningful offer” in his emailed response.

“We provide a valuable service, and for that providers should be fairly compensated and reimbursed,” Bess said. “We strive to work with our patients and advocate on behalf of them to get coverage rightfully owed to them under their insurance plans.”

Royer, a retired Air Force air traffic control systems manager, knows something about the cost of operating jets. To him, it looks like Angel MedFlight inflated the bill, hoping the insurer would agree to a generous settlement.

“I guess that the way things work nowadays. You ask for the moon and if you only get a large island, that’s what you get,” Royer said.

Bess responded to Royer’s claim in a statement.

“Staffing what is essentially an Intensive Care Unit at 30,000 feet presents unique medical and aviation challenges that may not be apparent to those outside of the medical aviation industry,” Bess wrote. “The amount we receive per flight is a fraction of the billed charge.”

Patients caught up in an air ambulance billing dispute can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

A recent push for stricter federal billing regulations was stripped out of the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act, passed in October. The legislation did establish a council of industry representatives, including air ambulance providers and insurance company representatives, among others, to write and re-evaluate consumer protections, including balance-billing practices. It did not add a requirement for more price and other data transparency called for in a Government Accountability Office report on the air ambulance industry.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners says federal legislation is needed so that states can intervene to oppose unreasonable air ambulance charges. Lawmakers from rural states, including Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, said they’ll reintroduce such legislation.

The air ambulance trade group says any such change would create “borders in the sky” that would interfere with lifesaving air rescues across state borders.

This story is part of a partnership that includes WBUR, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

Do you have an interesting or outrageous medical bill you’d like KHN and NPR to examine? Tell us about it!

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Best cheap flight websites you should be using

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Booking a flight can be overwhelming, we all know that. Whether you’re traveling across the state or to the other side of the world, you want to know you’re getting the most out of your money. With a range of different services, airlines, and seating arrangements, there are so many things to consider, but we’ve got some of the best flight websites which offer the cheapest flights.

Go direct

One of the best ways to book flights is through the airline itself, rather than through a third party. Airlines often have deals and reduced prices, although, even without a price reduction, they will usually cost no more than other online booking agents, but will give you peace of mind. If something were to go wrong with your booking or you needed to make an alteration, it’s easiest to speak directly to the airline who can deal with your issue quicker and more efficiently than an external agent.

Expedia

The trusted website has been around since the 90s and is no less popular for booking flights today. It can be used to book hotels, rental cars, and activities, too, meaning you can plan your entire trip through one website, which is certainly handy. They also offer a rewards scheme, meaning you can save money on future trips, the more you use their site.

Hotwire

Hotwire has been operating for roughly 20 years, making it one of the most reputable and reliable online booking websites. The site is easy to use, simple, and efficient for your convenience. All you have to do is input your details into the search bar, and it will bring up all the best deals. They also offer package deals which include hotels. These deals are almost unbeatable every time, with their package deals working out much cheaper than booking a flight and hotel separately.

Orbitz

Orbitz has been around just short of 20 years and has a successful rewards scheme where each booking earns you Orbucks which can save you tons on future hotel bookings – but not flights, sadly. This scheme works out so that 1% of your booking price is knocked off your next hotel bill. So a $ 300 flight, would subtract $ 3 from your hotel booking when you redeem your Orbucks. They also have a price match guarantee, but do charge a booking fee.

Priceline

This website is known for ‘opaque bookings,’ meaning that you book a flight without knowing the specific details, like times and the airline. In this way, airlines can fill more of their seats, and travelers can bag some pretty good deals. However, it’s not for everyone. You must have a pretty flexible schedule and be willing to go with whatever you’re told. The tickets cannot be canceled or changed, but, if you’re willing to blind book, Priceline can offer savings of up to 30%.

We all want to find the cheapest flights possible but from the most reliable site. These four websites are popular with travel fans and can offer you some great deals. They’re definitely ones to try for your next trip abroad.

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Best cheap flight airlines you should be using

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Traveling abroad is rarely ever cheap. Even if you manage to bag some accommodation at an affordable rate, you still have the cost of getting there to worry about. Thankfully, your flights don’t always have to leave you broke before you’ve even made it on your vacation. As long as you travel with the right airline, you can pay for your journey without blowing all your savings.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines won’t jet you off on vacation to Europe or Australia, but it can handle all your traveling needs within the United States. Whether you’re flying from Texas to Alaska, or you’re just hopping over to your neighboring state, this airline’s got you covered. Prices for a round trip can be as low as $ 30 which will barely leave a dent in your travel budget. With the added bonus of a mileage program that gifts you things like priority boarding, you might want to go with Frontier Airlines for your next American vacation.

jetBlue

Prepare to fly a little further if you choose JetBlue the next time you book a flight. As well as traveling all over the United States, this budget airline will also fly to the very south of the North American border. Holidays in Mexico and the Caribbean are definitely on the table with this provider, and your flights there are sure to be ones you’ll enjoy too. JetBlue planes generally offer greater leg room capacity than many other cheap airlines, while also providing things like onboard dining services. It’s everything you probably expect from a flight, just at a fraction of the cost.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines has been offering budget flights for the people of America for decades. They’ve been around since the early ‘70s, and for the last 50 years, they’ve been flying further and quicker without putting customers out of pocket. Not only can you jet off to over 100 destinations via Southwest Airlines, but you also have the bonus of taking two free bags on your flight. That’s a service that’s rarely offered by airlines, so you know that Southwest is treating you right. Not that you really need to save much money seeing as how their fares are also exceptionally affordable.

Virgin America

You might think a respected brand like Virgin would offer somewhat costly flights for its passengers. However, Virgin America is regularly praised for its affordability, making it one of the leading budget airlines in the country. Things like Wifi availability and spacious seating will have you flying in style as you head off on vacation, all while you’re tended to by award-winning airline staff. The crew at Virgin America pride themselves on the level of care and attention they show their customers, and it shows. Their dedication is merely the cherry on the cake when it comes to this affordable airline.

Going on vacation can cause a great deal of stress, but there are ways to stop your mini break from driving you insane. If you fly with one of these affordable airlines, at least you can cross saving money off of your list.

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The most common reasons for flight delays

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We’ve all been there. You’re super excited about going on vacation, you get to the airport with more than enough time to get through security, and then the screen flashes up: DELAYED. Eugh. There’s nothing worse than having to hang around an airport for hours, waiting for your flight to take you somewhere sunny and beautiful. But, have you ever considered why your plane might be late? Here are some of the most common reasons for flight delays.

Late planes

According to statistics, the number one reason for late planes is…uh… late planes. If one aircraft is too late to land, then it caused a domino effect to other flights. Unfortunately, it’s not really something that is within the airline’s control. They cannot physically land until they are told it is safe to do so. While you may be all ready to start shouting at the air hostess for running behind, consider that it might actually be another airline company that’s causing all the delays.

Your airline

In nearly half of all cases, however, it is actually the fault of your airline – or something that is at least within their control. According to the U.S Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), nearly 50% of late flights between June 2015 and June 2016 were down to something the airline was simply slacking on. This could be refueling taking too long, crew not turning up on time, aircraft maintenance, and so on. This then leads to other take-offs and landings being delayed (see above). It’s a bit of a Catch-22 situation if you look at it that way.

Weather

Around 30% of delays are actually all down to the weather, which is definitely something that cannot be controlled. Well, not by mere humans anyway. Poor weather means that planes are unable to take-off or land, causing that Catch-22 situation we mentioned earlier. To be fair, we’d rather stay cozy in the airport for a little while longer as opposed to battling high winds or storms in a metal bird. Sure, we don’t mind weather delays one bit.

Airport security

You and I are the kind of people to turn up early for security, right? Unfortunately, not everyone else is. Airport security has got tighter in recent years, which means that it can take a little longer to go through all of the checks. This can then lead to holding up flights, as dozens of passengers can sometimes still be going through screening areas. Less than 0.1% of delays were due to actual security threats, such as evacuating an airport or plane due to a breach, you’ll be pleased to know.

What you can do

So, can you do anything to keep a flight running on time? Other than turning up early enough to check yourself in and get through security, not really. You can also be mindful of all the poor airline staff who will have to deal with the aftermath of a late plane though. It’s not (normally) their fault that the flight is delayed. Unless they’ve turned up late for work, in which case it definitely is their fault…

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Flight attendant breastfeeds passenger’s crying baby on flight

This flight attendant served up a lot more than peanuts and sodas on one recent trip.

Philippine Airlines crew member Patrisha Organo breastfed a crying baby on a flight Tuesday when the infant’s upset mom revealed she was out of formula.

The flight attendant broke down the adventure in a Wednesday…

Life Style – New York Daily News

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A Smelly Fruit Nearly Grounded a Flight After Passengers Fought for Its Removal

Durian is considered by many to be the smelliest fruit in the world. And when it was loaded into a plane’s cargo hold in Indonesia recently, its smell was enough to make passengers fight back.

Two tons of durian fruit was placed inside the hold of a Sriwijaya Air flight from Bengkulu to Jakarta. The smell was so bad that passengers demanded that the fruit be removed. After facing some backlash from air crews, the passengers nearly got into physical altercations to have it removed from the hold, according to the BBC, which earlier reported on the row.

Durian has 30 species and more than 100 varieties in Indonesia, alone. It’s thorn-covered and can grow as long as 12 inches. While some people can detect something sweet in the fruit’s odor, others believe it smells similar to raw sewage.

Airlines often carry products in their cargo hold to increase flight profitability. In most cases, airlines can transport products without informing their customers what’s in the hold and customers don’t typically have any say in what the flight will carry.

According to accounts from passengers, they could immediately smell durian when they got onto the flight and soon started requesting its removal from the cargo hold. Passengers chanted, saying they wouldn’t fly with durian in the cargo hold.

Their protests worked: the passengers were asked to get off the plane while the durian was removed from the hold. The plane eventually took off an hour after its scheduled departure time without any durian inside.

Fortune

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http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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A Man Who Allegedly Groped Another Passenger on a Southwest Flight Invoked Trump in His Defense

A Florida man cited President Donald Trump in his defense after being accused of groping a woman on a Sunday flight.

The man in question, Bruce Michael Alexander, was arrested following a Southwest flight from Houston to New Mexico on Sunday and charged with “abusive sexual contact.”

The victim claims that she awoke to the passenger behind her touching her “around her bra line,” according to the affidavit. Around 30 minutes later, she felt someone grab her again. She then confronted the man sitting behind her and asked a flight attendant to allow her to change seats.

When the plane landed in Albuquerque, Alexander was arrested. He denied touching the woman in question, but later told officers that “the President of the United States says it’s OK to grab women by their private parts,” presumably referring to the Access Hollywood “grab ’em by the pussy” video.

In a written statement, Alexander claimed he had been asleep for most of the flight and while he remembered a woman sitting in front of him, he could not describe her. Authorities, meanwhile, say Alexander’s hands match the description provided by the woman.

Alexander is due to appear in court on Tuesday. If convicted, he could face up to two years in prison and a $ 250,000 fine.

Fortune

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http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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Ever Been Bumped Off a Flight? The Airline Could Owe You $700

Traveling is full of adventure and fun — and often, headaches. If you’ve flown at some point in the past few years, you’ve probably experienced your fair share of delays and cancellations.

Though all are inconvenient, the most frustrating experience is being “bumped” off an overbooked flight, which happens most often around the holidays and other peak travel times.

You may have thought that getting bumped was just the price of admission for flying. In reality, though, it’s illegal for the airlines to overbook flights — and you’re entitled to compensation if it happens to you.

AirHelp, a startup based in New York City, is here to help you with the process of getting paid when you’re delayed.

Who Can Use AirHelp

If you’ve been denied boarding, or your flight has been delayed or canceled within Europe or the United States in the past three years, you may qualify for reimbursement of up to $ 700.

As outlined by AirHelp, the laws vary greatly between Europe and the U.S.:

For flights to and from the European Union:

Unless caused by extraordinary circumstances beyond the airline’s control, you must be financially compensated if your flight is canceled, overbooked or arrives late by three hours or more.

For flights in the United States:

If you’re denied boarding, you’re eligible for 200% of your one-way fare if you get to your final destination between one and two hours late, with a cap of $ 675.

If you arrive at your final destination more than two hours late, you’re eligible for 400% of your one-way fare, with a cap of $ 1,350. (You’re not eligible for compensation for delayed or canceled flights.)

How AirHelp Works

If you think you might qualify for a reimbursement, fill out a simple online form on AirHelp’s website or in its app.

You’ll answer a few basic questions about your flight: airline, date and time, why it was delayed or canceled or why you were denied boarding.

Once you submit your information, AirHelp immediately notifies you whether your flight is eligible for compensation. If your flight qualifies, AirHelp starts to petition the airlines on your behalf.

The company has a “no win, no fee” policy, which means you only pay if it wins compensation from the airline. If and when AirHelp successfully receives compensation, it will transfer the money directly into your bank account, minus a 25% fee for regular customers and a 35% fee for online travel agency customers.

What It’s Like to Use AirHelp

It sounds like a great idea, but does AirHelp actually work? I decided to test it out.

Since I didn’t think any of my recent flights would be eligible, I entered the information for a friend’s Spirit Airlines flight that was more than 12 hours late. Since domestic flights are eligible for compensation only if you’ve been denied boarding, AirHelp said it didn’t qualify.

Trying to assuage my disappointment, AirHelp asked if it could search my email for old itineraries that might qualify. I synced it with my Gmail, and 15 minutes later, I received an alert that it had finished searching. Unfortunately, I once again came up empty-handed.

Lauren Lowther, of Kansas City, Missouri, had better luck. This past holiday season, she’d paid a whopping $ 2,200 for a round-trip ticket to Paris to see her husband’s family.

When it came time to return home, she ended up sitting on the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle Airport for five hours waiting for a spare part; eventually, the captain announced they weren’t leaving until the next day.

When they disembarked, the flight attendant told them they qualified for reimbursement and even gave them information about how to get it. But when Lowther submitted her claim through the online portal, it was denied.

“I thought that was odd since they told us at CDG [the airport] we had the right to be reimbursed,” says Lowther. “So I submitted again and was rejected again. I know I tried at least two times — I believe I also tried a third. It just said, ‘Unfortunately, we are unable to honor your request.’ I was shocked, because it was completely their fault.”

Understandably frustrated, Lowther enlisted AirHelp. Two months after submitting her claim online, the company wired €450 (about $ 487 at the time) into her bank account — her compensation after AirHelp’s 25% commission.

Kate May, a Hajoca Corporation recruiter from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, also received €450 thanks to AirHelp — as did her husband. The best part? Neither of them had to lift a finger.

On their way home from a vacation in Denmark, May and her husband were delayed by eight hours due to an engine issue. They hadn’t pursued any reimbursement when, six months later, AirHelp contacted her husband.

“Honestly, we thought it was a scam,” she says, “but after researching it and providing a little personal information, we got a pretty big refund.”

It took a little more than two months for her husband (who filed first) to receive his reimbursement of €450, and then six weeks for her to collect.

Close to $ 1,000 for filling out a brief form? It sounds like a good deal, and May agrees. “While they do charge a service fee,” she says, “they did all the legwork, and that was worth it.”

As for Lowther, would she use AirHelp again?

“Oh, completely,” she says. “I would’ve had zero compensation if it wasn’t for them.”

In a world of rising airfare, baggage fees, and endless delays, it’s nice to see a company giving a little bit of power back to the consumer. The next time you’re bumped off a flight, you know who to call.

Susan Shain (@Susan_Shain) is a freelance writer and travel blogger who is always seeking adventure on a budget.

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Rapper Desiigner says he got kicked off a Scandinavian Airlines flight

“Panda” rapper Desiigner claims he was booted from a Scandinavian Airlines flight after he “spazzed” on a flight attendant who touched him.

The Brooklyn-born musician, 21, shared a series of expletive-laced videos on his Instagram story Tuesday blasting the airline over the alleged incident, which…

/entertainment – New York Daily News

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