The Misnamed Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 Would Harm Millions of Consumers
Not Suitable for House Suspension Calendar Procedure
The consumer groups appended to this statement have learned that highly controversial H.R. 4156, the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, is on the short list in the U.S. House of Representatives for inclusion on the Suspension Calendar prior to the August recess. H.R. 4156 is contentious legislation that would harm millions of consumers by reversing a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rule implemented in 2012 as a cure to misleading airline advertising.
Consumer groups were not alerted to the prospect of this legislation, nor have we been provided any opportunity for input. Airlines are the last party that should be crafting and championing consumer legislation for Congress. H.R. 4156 was rushed by voice vote through the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on April 9, 2014 after just 9 minutes of discussion. There was no outreach for public opinion. There was no hearing.
Misuse of The Suspension Calendar Procedure
After steamrollering the bill through Committee, airlines now hope to rush it through the House under the Suspension Calendar procedure. Suspension of the rules is a procedure used to quickly pass non-controversial bills in the House. However, H.R. 4156 arguably represents one of the most controversial aviation bills in years. There is not one consumer group or business travel organization that supports this legislation; most have publicly criticized both the bill and the rushed process. This is not the type of unobjectionable proposal -- like the naming of a federal building -- that the Suspension Calendar is designed for, but rather, it is harmful and controversial legislation.
Indeed, The New York Times Editorial Board on April 22 criticized the bill in an editorial saying: "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."” Likewise, The Washington Post reported on April 24: “Consumers have reacted to this bill in the same way their advocates have: They’re dead-set against it.”
This anti-consumer legislation will serve no purpose, in our view, other than to mislead consumers about the real price of airfare. House Members should reject this Suspension Calendar scheme and insist on meaningful consumer group input and proper deliberation for this highly controversial legislation.
Association for Airline Passenger Rights
Business Travel Coalition
Ed Perkins, Consumer Advocate
National Consumers League
Travelers United (formerly Consumer Travel Alliance)
At http://btc.travel find relevant foundational documents, analyses and industry statements representing all views on H.R. 4156 as well as press editorials and stories.
Business Travel Coalition | Kevin Mitchell | 610-999-9247 | email@example.com
FlyersRights.org | Paul Hudson | 410-940-8934 | Paul@flyersrights.org
Ed Perkins | 541-488-8849 (PDT) | firstname.lastname@example.org