AG asks airlines to drop passenger fees


HARTFORD, Conn. – As officials nationwide work to contain the H1N1 flu, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has asked airlines to change their practices.

Blumenthal said he wants airlines to stop charging fees to passengers who feel sick and want to postpone their trip. He said those fees encourage sick people to fly and could expose others.

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Patti Ward said she didn’t feel well the day she flew from Charlotte, N.C., to Hartford, but that she flew anyway.

“I flew because I couldn’t get my money back, so I sucked it up and flew here,” she said.

Blumenthal said he wants airlines to waive them, perhaps with a doctor’s note, so people with any flu symptoms stay off airplanes for the time being.

“In the very close quarters of an airline flight, even if it’s just for an hour or two, people may be spreading this disease when they know that they are sick,” he said.

Blumenthal sent a letter to airlines on Monday that request they drop the fees until Uncle Sam declares the public health emergency over.

If they weren’t charging the fees, Ward said, she “wouldn’t have come here feeling like I did.”

On the other end of the spectrum is Florida-based structural inspector Gil Hodges.

“There are always sick people on a plane,” he said.

Hodges said he has been on the road for a month straight. He said he caught the flu several weeks ago while traveling in southern Texas. He said he felt better before hearing about the H1N1 flu, so he was never tested. He said airline restrictions are all hype.

Hodges said he’ll still fly, even if he’s sick.

“Well, I did,” he said. “Seven different flights. Hey, you gotta do it. You gotta go to work. You gotta make money.

But Blumenthal said anyone with a flight coming up that’s not feeling well should call the airline or travel agent and ask that the trip be postponed.