May 21 - BTC Applauds U.S. DOT Airline Consumer Protection Efforts

Congress Must Reject Bill That Would Undermine Agency’s Authority to Police Deceptive Airline Practices 

H.R. 4156 is a house of cards premised on a lie


May 21, 2014, RADNOR, PA Business Travel Coalition (BTC) today welcomed the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) publishing of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding new airline consumer protections and applauded a tentative decision on the International Air Transport Association’s application to DOT for approval of its Resolution 787.

While BTC is still studying in detail the numerous and complex provisions in both the DOT’s proposed passenger-protections rulemaking, and its tentative decision regarding Resolution 787, we thank the agency for its thoughtful, pro consumer deliberations.

DOT has protected competition and consumers by imposing several important conditions on its approval of Resolution 787. Likewise, consumers will benefit from greater price transparency by the Department’s proposal to require airlines to provide real-time pricing of core ancillary services (e.g., for checked bags) wherever they sell their tickets. However, DOT must require that ancillary fee information is disseminated to travel agents in an efficient manner that is truly usable by agents and we urge the agency to ensure that consumers can purchase these services from travel agents at the same time as an airline ticket.

Taken together, DOT’s actions reinforce the agency’s unique role as the only forum - state or federal, judicial or regulatory - where consumer protections exist for airline consumers. What’s more, the recklessness, anti-consumer H.R. 4156, the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, is placed in stark relief as it would undermine DOT’s authority to police unfair and deceptive airline practices.

“The more consumers trust a shopping and purchasing process the more likely it is that they will buy more products and services more often. Over the long term, providing strong consumer protections will increase competition, create market efficiencies, encourage innovation, expand markets, increase sales and satisfy customers,” stated BTC chairman Kevin Mitchell. “These are outcomes that benefit all stakeholders in any industry as well as society in general,” added Mitchell.

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