Yesterday, a group of Representatives introduced the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014. This bill is a major step backwards for consumers and the sponsors of this bill, from both sides of the aisle, have simply not thought through what they are proposing. And, the airline lobbyists, intent on finding ways to make airline pricing more obscure, are flogging a dead horse that has been killed at least three times over the past three years.
Today is the final filing day for those in opposition to the American Airlines/US Airways (AA/US) merger. The merger rules and regulations allow objectors to the settlement to file comments that must be addressed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) prior to the final approval of the merger. A collection of consumer groups, including the Consumer Travel Alliance, will be making such filings today.
American fined $60,000 for lying to consumers about fees, Asiana captain worried about visual landing, airlines expect hike in demand by 2017
For the past 880 days consumers have been participating in a rulemaking to require airlines to disclose ancillary fees in channels where they sell their base fares so that complete air transportation prices can be easily compared across airlines. After all this time, the highly anticipated rulemaking from the U.S. DOT still has not been published. Millions of consumers are being harmed as the government procrastinates.
Kathleen and Eugene Bianucci paid $5,770 for a pair of round-trip tickets on Virgin Atlantic Airways. A few days before their trip, Kathleen broke her leg and had to be hospitalized for a week. Her doctor grounded her for six months. An airline representative promised her a full refund. Virgin, which had extracted the five grand from her credit card in just a few seconds, balked at returning the money.
The airlines seem to be intent on keeping travelers from being able to compare the full cost of travel. Somehow they feel that not allowing consumers to compare costs to fly, including ancillary fees, is the right way to go. They are flouting the new DOT disclosure rules on their websites and airlines are fighting the coming rules in court as well.
This listing, taken from the Web pages of the Federal Railroad Administration provide the outline of the current mandates. Of course, even with billions appropriated, change has been slow to non-existent over the past few years.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) is in the final throes of staffing a proposed rulemaking and reports are than it is having trouble in bureaucracyland. Let’s hope that the core of consumer protections holds true for the three most important groundbreaking portions of the rulemaking.
Distracted driving is a significant problem. Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than half a million were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. One out of every five crashes involve a distracted driver, and the problem affects younger drivers (under 20) disproportionally.
Although tarmac delays were a small problem, they emboldened the government to help airlines find customer service religion again. Proposed new rules covering everything from transparent publication of airfares and airline fees to increases in denied-boarding compensation are “strong evidence” that the Transportation Department now expects airlines to treat passengers as people.