Consumer Groups

COMMUNICATIONS TOOLKIT

Please find draft communications below that can be copied, pasted and modified:

1 - letter to members

2 - press release

2 - newsletter


1. LETTER TO MEMBERS

Dear Member,

As you likely know, for the past few years most major U.S. airlines have begun charging separately for a variety of services like checking bags that used to be included in the price of a ticket. While the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has taken some important steps to increase the transparency of these fees on airline websites, much more needs to be done.

Today, if you call your travel agency or use an online agency you will not be able to quickly comparison shop among competing airline offers and purchase a complete trip without your travel agent or you having to go to different airline websites to search for service fees and pay for them separately. This maddening process exists because airlines refuse to provide agencies with fee information that enables side-by-side comparison-shopping and purchasing. As we know all too well, there is great profit in consumer confusion!

There is reason for hope though. A White House-sponsored “We the People” petition was recently launched that calls for airlines to fully disclose their fees so that consumers can see, compare and buy the complete air travel package in one place without having to search a variety of airline sites. I strongly encourage you to sign this important petition.

In early 2013 DOT will propose a new regulation to address this airline fee problem and send it to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. Having the White House aware of the exasperating experience consumers must endure in buying air travel, and having them encourage DOT to make its regulation a strong one, would be very helpful.  

We have until December 25 to secure 25,000 signatures. If we succeed, then the White House commits to formally reviewing this request and providing a public response.  

You can review the text and sign the petition through http://www.businesstravelcoalition.com/whitehouse.html. I hope you will do so and likewise share the petition initiative with family and friends through the social media tools provided on the website.

Sincerely,

[consumer group representative]


2. PRESS RELEASE                                                            

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

  

[organization] JOINS WHITE HOUSE “WE THE PEOPLE” CAMPAIGN 

Urges Strong U.S. DOT Airline Ancillary Fee Rule

[date], [city], [state] – [organization] today joined forces with a broad coalition of airline consumers, consumer groups, travel management companies, travel agencies, corporate travel departments and travel industry associations in a White House-sponsored “WE the PEOPLE” petition. We are requesting that true air travel comparison-shopping be restored for consumers through an early 2013 U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).

Since 2008, most major U.S. airlines have been charging for so-called ancillary services, such as for accessing premium seating, and have been hiding associated fees by withholding fee information from travel agencies. As such, agents and travelers cannot efficiently compare “all-in” prices (base fares and fees) of air travel alternatives and must visit numerous airline websites to search for fees and pay separately for the services. These hidden fees represent a confusing and deceptive marketing practice that is costing all air travel consumers dearly.

In its petition to the White House the coalition points out that, despite demands from consumers and the travel industry for fee information, airlines have been able to withhold this information for 5 years, which is vivid evidence of a failing market. The coalition also noted that when Congress deregulated this market, consumer protections were consolidated at DOT leaving travelers with no legal recourse under state consumer-protection laws. DOT must require airlines to provide fee information to sales channels where they offer base fares so consumers can see, compare and buy the complete air travel product.

[“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Vestibulum bibendum, ligula ut feugiat rutrum, mauris libero ultricies nulla, at hendrerit lectus dui bibendum metus. Phasellus quis nulla nec mauris sollicitudin ornare,” stated [NAME], [TITLE], [ORGANIZATION]. “Vivamus faucibus. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos hymenaeos,” added [NAME].]

The coalition has until December 25 to secure 25,000 signatures. If successful, then the White House commits to formally reviewing this request and providing a public response. The petition can be reviewed and signed at http://wh.gov/IXhH. More information is available at http://www.businesstravelcoalition.com/whitehouse.html.

###

About [organization]
 

Contact [organization]
[name] [telephone number] [ email address]


3. NEWSLETTER

392 Words

Dear Reader,

As you are no doubt aware, for the past few years most major U.S. airlines have begun charging separately for a variety of services like checking bags that used to be included in the price of a ticket. While the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has taken some important steps to increase the transparency of these fees on airline websites, much more needs to be done. Some 50 percent of consumers use travel agencies and 95 percent of corporate travelers use travel management companies (TMCs) and online booking tools.

Today, if you call your travel agency, use an online travel company or seek assistance from your TMC, efficient comparison shop among competing airline offers and the purchasing of a complete trip is not possible. You or your travel agent must go to multiple airline websites to search for service fees and pay for them separately. This maddening process exists because airlines refuse to provide the travel agency sales channel with fee information that enables side-by-side comparison-shopping and purchasing. As we know all too well, there is great profit in consumer confusion!

There is reason for hope though. [Organization] has joined forces with a broad coalition of travel industry and consumer groups in a White House-sponsored “WE the PEOPLE” petition. We are requesting that true air travel comparison-shopping be restored through an anticipated early 2013 DOT Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) so that consumers can see, compare and buy the complete air travel package in one place without having to search through a variety of airline websites. However, we do not know how strongly DOT will write the proposed rule.

Importantly, the NPRM will soon be transmitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget for its due diligence and guidance back to DOT. Having the White House more aware of the financial harm to consumers from hidden airline fees and having them encourage a robust DOT rulemaking would be very useful.   

We have until December 25, 2012 to secure 25,000 signatures. If we succeed, then the White House is committed to formally reviewing this request and providing a public response.  

You can review the text and sign the petition through http://www.businesstravelcoalition.com/whitehouse.html. I hope you will do so and likewise share the petition initiative with family and friends through the social media tools on the website.

 

 

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