Law Aids Faltering Independence Airline's Travelers

Passengers booked on Independence Air still have a chance to get where they want to go, even if their flights are scheduled after the airline's planned shutdown on Thursday, thanks to a federal law.

Buckling under financial pressure and high fuel prices, Independence Air said this week it will shut its doors Thursday night.

When one airline disappears, federal law requires others to offer any of their available seats to stranded passengers for a fee of no more than $50 one-way.

US Airways, Charlotte's dominant carrier, said Tuesday it will allow Independence Air passengers to fly standby for $50, meaning the passenger will get on the flight only if there is an empty seat.

US Airways is offering guaranteed seats for stranded Independence Air customers for $100 one-way. Taxes and fees could add more than $20.

To buy such tickets, customers must have proof that they had purchased an Independence Air ticket, such as an e-ticket receipt or paper tickets. No photocopies will be accepted.

Independence Air blasted onto the scene in 2004, offering low fares to its hub at Dulles International Airport outside Washington. It forced many other carriers to match its low fares along the East Coast, including US Airways. But those low fares also helped push Independence Air over the financial brink, analysts say.

Charlotte Observer

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