GOP To Introduce Legislation To Kill Aviation Consumer Protection Rules


  Bookmark and Share

GOP To Introduce Legislation To Kill Aviation Consumer Protection Rules

By Mike Mitchell

January 31, 2012 - Rep. Tom Graves announced he will introduce legislation to cancel a series of Department of Transportation (DOT) aviation consumer protection rules that include requiring airlines to show all costs at the time an airline ticket is purchased, providing baggage refunds, mandating that airlines cannot impose increases to a ticket once it has been purchased, requiring ticket refunds, among other regulations that protect consumers.

In addition the GOP House of Representatives is also attempting to remove the Tarmac Rule which prohibits airlines from keeping passengers on the tarmac for over three hours. Congress is proposing the FAA Reauthorization Bill that will exclude this rule. It appears that although Rep. Graves is on the people?s payroll, he is working for the airlines.

United Continental Airlines? CEO called the Tarmac Rule stupid. As a result of this rule passengers are no longer stuck on the tarmac such as in the case of United Flight 270 when passengers were stranded on the tarmac nearly nine hours. DOT?s new regulations help ensure that consumers are treated fairly when they travel by air.

Among the new provisions of the airline consumer rule issued by DOT requires airlines and ticket agents include all mandatory taxes and fees in published airfares and that they disclose baggage fees to consumers buying tickets. However, this didn?t sit well with the airlines. Southwest Airlines, Spirit and Allegiant petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to void DOT?s new rules that would require advertised prices include government taxes and fees. 

These companies argued that the regulations hinder the airlines free speech rights, preventing consumers from recognizing the "significant tax burden on air travel in a clear and conspicuous matter." In other words, they, the airlines wanted to hide these fees to give the consumer the impression the purchase price of the ticket was cheaper but in fact the ticket cost more. 

Ticket purchasers have welcomed DOT?s aviation consumer protection rules which bring about more transparency in airline pricing. In a scare tactic Spirit Airlines, sent out e-mails to scare the public by stating, ?WARNING: New government regulations require us to HIDE taxes in your fares.? 

So you wonder who Rep. Graves is working for and whose interest is he truly acting on. Graves said, ?The federal government should not be inserting itself in the private sector to limit consumers? ability to see how much they?re getting taxed. If the American people can?t see these costs clearly, I fear it will be easier these fees and taxes to be raised without their knowledge.?


?If the goal of the DOT?s rule is to prevent companies from deceiving passengers about the total cost of their ticket, why is the department mandating that airlines hide the taxes, surcharges, and government fees in the fine print?  Transparency and honesty in ticket pricing should apply across the board no matter if the cost charged to Americans is in the form of airfare, taxes, or government fees.? 

?Let?s list the various charges, line by line. What?s wrong with letting the flying public know where their money is going?  Making these taxes and fees invisible or hard to find will no doubt increase advertised airfare prices and decrease transparency.  And, the taxpayers will be left holding the bag.? 

Rep. Graves? statement is true, but what he states and what he does is two different things. He is telling the American people one thing and behind closed doors he is doing just the opposite. If Rep. Graves wants to introduce legislation to cancel DOT?s new consumer protection rules he needs to propose new regulations that will improve on DOT?s new consumer protection rules. Not just talk the talk. If he wants to take these regulations off the table then he first needs to put his plan on the table for the American people to see. Rep. Graves was hired by the people not the airlines. 

Recently, the DOT changed the rules that apply to air travel pricing. Until January 26, 2012, most airlines advertised the cost of airfare, excluding additional federal fees and taxes, cost for baggage, etc. The DOT?s new rule now requires any company selling airline tickets to show all additional taxes and fees in the total advertised price of the fare. This does not mean hide these fees as Rep. Graves would suggest. 

In addition to the passenger protections, DOT requires baggage fee refunds if an airline loses your luggage and increased compensation if you're involuntarily bumped from an oversold flight. Airlines do not like this.

DOT?s effort is to make sure that the consumer can easily determine the full price for air transportation before travel. Arriving at the airport only to be hit with surprise fees is no way to start a trip. The new protections require that airlines and ticket agents include all mandatory taxes and fees in their published airfares and that they disclose baggage fees when you buy your ticket. Also airlines and ticket agents are prohibited from increasing the price of your ticket after it is purchased. 

DOT?s Secretary Ray LaHood said, ?I?ve said many times that airline passengers have rights, and they should be able to expect fair and reasonable treatment when booking a trip and when they fly. The protections ? are another step forward in our ongoing effort to help air travelers receive the respect they deserve. But we are far from done.? 

?We're also looking at other possible measures, including requiring that all optional fees be disclosed wherever consumers can book a flight. It?s simple, we think that treating passengers fairly is the right thing to do. I?m proud of the work DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement team has done, and I know they will continue working to make flying more convenient and agreeable for our nation's air travelers.? 

In addition if you make your reservation one week or more prior to a flight?s departure date, customers can hold a reservation without payment, or cancel a booking without penalty, for 24 hours after the reservation is made. 

And, when you're traveling, airlines will be required to promptly notify passengers of flight delays of 30 minutes or more, as well as flight cancellations and diversions. 

The rule enhances airline passenger protections by: 

? Requiring airlines and ticket agents to include all mandatory taxes and fees in published airfares and that they disclose baggage fees to consumers buying tickets; 

? Requiring airlines to refund baggage fees if they are lost; 

? Allowing passengers to hold a reservation without payment, or cancel a booking without penalty, for 24 hours after the reservation is made, if they make the reservation one week or more prior to a flight?s departure; and


? Requiring airlines to promptly notify passengers of flight delays over 30 minutes, as well as flight cancellations and diversions, and they will be generally prohibited from increasing the price of purchased tickets.

If the GOP wants to do something good for the American people why don't they work on a jobs bill?

Other News Stories (For the latest news please checkout our home page)


blog comments powered by Disqus  
Home Aviation News Aviation Stories Of Interest FAA Exam Upcoming Events Links To Other Sites General Aviation Helicopters Medical Factors Facing Pilots
Maintenance and Aircraft Mechanics Hot Air Balloon Aviation Training Handbooks Read Online Aviation History Legal Issues In Aviation Sea Planes Editorials
 ?AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                  Return To News                                          Bookmark and Share


AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator