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H.R. 4156 Media Center

The U.S. House Transportation Committee on March 9, 2014 passed, after 9 minutes of discussion, H.R. 4156,  the Orwellian titled Transparent Airfares Act of 2014. This bill, which would enshrine drip pricing in law, is in response to airlines' objections to a U.S. Department of Transportation rule implemented in 2012 that requires airlines to prominently display total ticket prices in advertising and in internet displays, including government taxes and fees. The legislation would reverse that DOT rule and undermine a critically important airline consumer protection that was adopted as a cure to airline drip-pricing advertising.


The Drip Pricing Problem

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission commissioner Dr Jill Walker told the travel publication MICE BTN: “‘Drip pricing’ is an enforcement priority. ‘Drip pricing involves sequentially revealing components of the total price and not revealing the full price until the end of the reservation process. “The final price paid may be substantially higher than the ‘headline price’, but after investing time and effort in the booking process, consumers are less likely to shop around.’”


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BTC ANALYSES & STATEMENTS


VIEWS OF TRAVEL INDUSTRY STAKEHOLDERS

OPPOSED TO H.R. 4156


SUPPORTATIVE OF H.R. 4156


VIEWS OF MEMBERS OF U.S. CONGRESS

OPPOSED TO H.R. 4156  

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Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) AP “The bill is ‘a gift to the airlines,’ said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., a transportation committee member who said he voted against it. ‘What you're going to see is $200 for the airfare, and then you're going to be shocked when it turns out to really be $250,’ he said. ‘It's misleading to the consumer. It's just dishonest.’”

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)  New Jersey 101.5 “‘The bill is a bad deal for the consumers,’ Menendez said of the House measure. “It makes airfare less transparent.”


SUPPORTATIVE OF H.R. 4156  

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Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA)  USA Today (Editorial)  

"Shuster's argument that "higher and higher" taxes and fees are "being hidden" is just silly."

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) The New York Times (Editorial) “This push to mislead consumers is particularly galling since recent mergers, like that of American Airlines and US Airways, have made the industry less competitive. This bill will only hurt travelers.”

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL)  The News Gazette “Legislation cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, is being criticized by consumer and travel advocacy groups who claim it would allow airlines to hide bottom-line ticket prices.”

Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA)  Atlanta Journal-Constitution “Co-sponsor of the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, finds himself in a dustup between consumer advocates and the airlines.”

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb)  Star Herald "Sen. Deb Fischer told an airline industry lobbyist that she agrees with his statements that current rules on airfare advertising allow the government to hide tax increases behind the "full fare" price.

Rep. Michael H. Michaud (D-Maine)  Consumer Traveler "Currently, a rule implemented by the Department of Transportation in 2012 prohibits airlines and travel agents from providing full disclosure of government imposed taxes and fees in advertised prices.”

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI)  Consumer Traveler "I also oppose requiring airlines to hide government taxes in the ticket price. Americans have a right to know how much they are being taxed when they purchase an airline ticket."

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