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Travelers United welcomes US DOT announcement of protections

Travelers United welcomes US DOT announcement of protections

US Department of Transportation releases new rules that will add transparency to airline prices and consumer protection

Travelers United applauds the Department of Transportation’s release of new rules that will add transparency to airline prices and consumer protection reporting by the airlines.

This long awaited release of consumer issues is welcome. However, all issues have not been resolved.

The big wins for consumers focus on

• Requiring airlines to refund baggage fees when baggage is substantially delayed

• Requiring airlines to report customer service issues based on their mainline carrier and their regional carriers that carry their brand.

• Requiring airlines to report damage to mobility devices so that the disabled can compare how carriers serve their needs.

• Reporting lost luggage based on number of pieces checked rather than based on per 1,000 passengers. This is a far more accurate assessment of how airlines handle checked baggage.

In addition, DOT’s call for an examination of the airline practice of withholding airfares from select online travel agencies and metasearch engines is welcome. When airlines are allowed to pick and choose which online travel agencies will be allowed to provide their public fare and availability information, a consumer’s ability to effectively comparison shop is limited and the free market cannot operate.

The unfinished business comes with a call for a separate rulemaking that will require airlines to provide consumers with all-in pricing information. This will be a step backwards from two earlier rulemakings, including this one, that solicited comments for publication of baggage, seat-reservation, cancellation and change fees. Travelers United is hoping DOT is not planning on starting from scratch as it will be an enormous retreat from overall airline pricing transparency.

With Charlie Leocha, President of Travelers United, once again a member of the DOT’s Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection, the consumer group is continuing its fight for basic transparency of air travel pricing. “The DOT delays only serve to stop consumers from effectively comparison shopping and thwart the free market from working,” notes Leocha.

“These newly announced DOT rules will assist consumers with transparency of airfares, fees and customer service.” he adds, They are a big win for consumers, but are only a small portion of the entire Passenger Protection 3 rulemaking that consumers have been awaiting. We look forward to the remaining sections of this important and large rulemaking being enacted in the coming months.”

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