Press Coverage After House Passes H.R. 4156 On July 28


Aug. 4 Transparent Airfares Act needs more transparency  Los Angeles Times

The Transparent Airfares Act is one of those classic feats of legislative misdirection that does exactly the opposite of what it purports to do. "I can't think of any other bill over the last 20 years that's as Orwellian as this," said Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, which represents corporate travel departments. "It should have been called the Airfare Opacity Act."

Aug. 4 House Votes to Allow Airlines to Hide Taxes and Fees  AllGov

Some federal lawmakers have decided commercial airlines should be able to once again hide the true cost of flying from consumers. In adopting the misleadingly named legislation, the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, the House of Representatives wants to give U.S. carriers the power to advertise just the base cost of airline tickets, minus extras like taxes and airline fees.

Aug. 1 H.R. 4156: There is more than meets the eye  eTN

This week, in a scene right out of NetFlix’s House of Cards, HR 4156, the Orwellian-titled Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, was passed in the US House of Representatives by voice vote with no chance for debate and no record of how each member voted. The bill was championed by Representative Bill Shuster (R-PA), Chairman of the powerful House Transportation Committee, and Committee Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR).

Aug. 1 Congress Says It's OK To Dupe Consumers  The Lansing Star (editorial)

On Monday Congress passed the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014.  The bill, if passed by the Senate and signed by the President, will reverse the 2012 FAA rules that required the airlines to include taxes and fees in their advertised rates.  The bill was introduced by Pennsylvania Congressman Bill Shuster. Airlines for America, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are among Shuster's top 20 campaign contributors for the 2013-14 reporting cycle.

July 31 The great airline bill scam  BocaMagazine

H.R. 4156 is called the Transparent Airfares Act, but a more accurate name would be the Deceptive Airfares Act. It would change the way airlines can advertise ticket prices, and consumer groups say that change would enable airlines to hide the truest cost of a flight, sometimes until it’s too late for a buyer to change his or her mind.

July 30 Why Do Airlines Get to Game Ticket Pricing?  Bloomberg (editorial)

On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives gave them [airlines] a big boost by passing on a voice vote the Transparent Airfares Act, against almost universal consumer opposition. The misleadingly titled bill (which has yet to be taken up by the Senate) rolls back the 2012 Department of Transportation rule so that airlines can go back to advertising their cheap-looking base fares, minus taxes and fees. Under the new legislation, the latter will only need be revealed via an “easily accessible” link or popup. By all rights, the legislation should be renamed the Opaque Airfares Act.

July 30 Sponsor of Airline Friendly Bill is the #1 Recipient of Airline Contributions  MapLight

The bill's chief sponsor, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), received $80,900 from the airline industry, more than any other member of the House of Representatives, from January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2013. Shuster's top organizational donor between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2013 was Airlines for America, a trade group representing the top American Airlines. The group gave $21,200 to Shuster during the period. Shuster received $179,100 from the air transport industry from January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2013.

July 30 Consumer groups irate over House passage of airline-backed bill  TravelMarketReport

The legislation would overturn the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) full-fare advertising rule. Termed a “cynically named bill” by the New York Times, H.R. 4156 now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

July 30 House Approves Return to Deceptive Airline Ads  MarketWatch

The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday approved the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 bill, which, however contradictory to its title, would hide certain government taxes and fees from consumers until checkout. It now heads to the Senate.

July 29 Consumer groups continue fight over airfare advertising  Chicago Tribune

Consumer groups continued marshaling forces on Tuesday, a day after the House passed a bill that would allow airlines to advertise fares without all the taxes and fees included, amounting to bait-and-switch pricing, they claim. Groups include AirlinePassengers.org, Association for Airline Passenger Rights, Business Travel Coalition, Consumer Advocate Ed Perkins, FlyersRights.org, National Consumers League and Travelers United and U.S. PIRG. The Business Travel Coalition calls the bill "Orwellian titled" because it would make prices less transparent to consumers, who might be faced with sticker shock when they find a $239 airline booking really costs closer to $300.

July 29 Airline ‘Transparency’ Law One Step Closer to Misleading Passengers  TIME

Currently, airlines must include the full price of a flight—including federal taxes and fees—in advertisements. However, a new bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives on Monday, would allow the ads to exclude government fees, allowing for marketing that could fool consumers into thinking their flights will cost significantly less than they’ll actually end up paying. The National Consumers League says the bill doesn’t provide transparency, and merely allows the airlines to advertise eye-grabbing but deceptive lower prices in order to win more business

July 29 House bill lets airlines advertise pre-tax fares  Associated Press

In a victory for airlines and their workers' unions, the House rejected consumers' complaints and easily passed legislation Monday letting airline advertising emphasize the base price of tickets, before taxes and fees are added. Groups representing airline passengers and companies that rely on corporate travel derided the bill's name, the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, as Orwellian. They said the measure's enactment would return the country to an earlier era of misleading advertising. Charlie Leocha, chairman of Travelers United, which represents people who travel, said, "Their main goal is to be able to offer the public a low-ball price. 

July 29 A New Bill Is Going to Make Air Travel More Exasperating Than Ever  Policy.Mic

You're reading the news online when an ad catches your eye: Roundtrip flights from New York to Sheboygan for just $99! You've always wanted to visit Sheboygan's famous bratwurst festival, so you snap up a ticket. But it turns out the actual price is way more expensive — and you have Congress to thank.

July 29 House Votes To End Full-Fare Rule For Airline Tickets  NPR

The House voted Monday to allow airlines to advertise lower prices for their routes. The Transparent Airfares Act, which was approved with minimal debate, would overturn a 2012 rule that requires airlines to post the full price of tickets, including taxes and fees. “Before the full-fare rule went into effect, it wasn’t uncommon to find an attractive ticket price — say, $299 for a transatlantic flight — but once taxes, fuel surcharges and other fees were added, the total fare came to $899,” notes travel writer Christopher Elliott in The Washington Post. “That price was revealed only at the end of the booking process, frustrating passengers.”

July 29 Transparent Airfares Act Approved by House  Travel Pulse

“The legislative process that the House followed was shameful. All consumer groups loathed H.R. 4156 as soon as they learned of it after it was voted out Committee,” said Business Travel Coalition chairman Kevin Mitchell. “It was a bill they never had the chance to critique in any sort of open hearings with the opportunity for the debate that is the customary and democratic process – and then a bill passed on the suspension calendar as if it were as non-controversial as the innocuous items placed on the suspension calendar with it.”

July 29 ASTA vows to continue fighting fare-advertising bill  Travel Weekly

ASTA CEO Zane Kerby said his organization was “disappointed” that the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 was passed by the House of Representatives on Monday.

July 29 House passes H.R. 4156 in spite of consumer complaints  Successful Meetings

Since 2012, airlines in the United States have been required to display full ticket prices -- including not only base airfares, but also taxes and fees -- in their advertisements. In a major win for said airlines, however, the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday voted in favor of the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, which despite its name would roll back transparency requirements to let airlines compete on the basis of base airfares alone.

July 29 Airfare Bill Passes House: Airlines Cheer, ASTA & Consumer Groups Boo  Travel Agent

Zane Kerby, ASTA's president and CEO, issued a statement: "ASTA is disappointed by House passage of this anti-consumer legislation that will make airfares less transparent, not more. But we are undeterred in our resolve to resist H.R. 4156, and with the support of our members, turn now to the Senate to make our case and prevent this bill from going further."

July 29 H.R. 4156 Passes U.S. House; Industry Reacts  International Meetings Review

Reaction was swift and diverse. Not surprisingly, Airlines for America welcomed the move, saying that commercial aviation helps drive nearly $1.5 trillion in U.S. economic activity and more than 11 million U.S. jobs. But the American Society of Travel Agents and Travelers United, formerly Consumer Travel Alliance, both expressed strong displeasure at the House's action. "This misguided bill is unnecessary, since everything the bill purports to do for the airlines is already permitted by current rules except the ability to offer misleading and deceptive lowball airfare prices," says Charlie Leocha, chairman of Travelers United.

July 28 House approves bill to drop taxes from airline ads  USA Today

The House approved legislation Monday to allow airlines to advertise fares without federal taxes, so long as the taxes are mentioned elsewhere, such as through a link on the Internet. But the bill must still be considered by the Senate. Nobody spoke against the bill on the House floor. But Kevin Mitchell, head of the Business Travel Coalition, called the legislation Orwellian for misleading travelers about the cost of their tickets.

July 28 The Washington, D.C. common sense test  The Hill  (Commentary)

Does Shuster actually care about the consumers in PA-9? Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) is also co-sponsoring this bill. He's my congressman. Does he care more about his friend Bill or his constituent Brandon.

July 28 U.S. House Votes Against Consumers  Meetings & Conventions (Commentary)

The House of Representatives passed the Orwellian-titled Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 (H.R. 4156). The bill is based on a big airline lie, was rushed out of the Transportation Committee with just airlines’ input and was inappropriately included on the suspension calendar. H.R. 4156 would harm consumers by reversing a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rule implemented in 2012 as a cure to misleading airline advertising.

July 28 Congress Votes To Bring Back Glory Days Of Opaque Airfare Pricing  Consumerist

Remember the good ol’ days of 2011, when you would see an airline advertising $99 tickets to somewhere nice, only to later find out that the actual airfare was much higher? For some reason that has absolutely nothing to do with huge amounts of donation money from the travel industry, the House of Representatives has decided that consumers should no longer have access to transparent airfares. “This is an industry-backed bill that should never have been cleared for takeoff in the first place,” says William J. McGee, aviation and transportation consultant to Consumers Union.

July 28 What Exactly Does ‘Airfare Transparency’ Mean?  National Journal

The plane ticket price should be broken out from the taxes and fees so you know exactly what you're paying. If you're a pilot or an airline executive, you're on this team, too. We'll call you Team A. But let's say you're on Team B. You probably think that "airfare transparency" means that you should know, up front, the total amount that your plane ticket will cost, including federal taxes and fees. That total should be available to you while you're still choosing among your flights. You think that Shuster's bill is a "gimmick" or worse, sheer fraud. "Airlines lied to the T&I Committee saying DOT is forcing them to hide federal taxes and fees—period, full stop," said Business Travel Coalition Chairman Kevin Mitchell in an email.

July 28 Bill lets airlines pitch pre-tax fares  News Journal

The measure was approved by voice vote, with individual lawmakers’ votes not recorded. That process is used often for non-controversial bills, but it can also allow legislators avoid taking a position on a touchy issue.

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