Consumer and travel groups including the Consumer Travel Alliance, the National Consumers League, and the Business Travel Coalition met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood yesterday to offer their support for his efforts to require transparency in airline ticket pricing.
Participants in the meeting presented Secretary LaHood with a letter from organizations representing more than 300 U.S. and Europe consumer groups urging the mandatory disclosure of all airline fees.
“Airline passengers have rights and should be able to expect fair and reasonable treatment when they fly,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told the group. “We’re proposing to strengthen consumer protections and raise the bar for airlines when it comes to treating passengers fairly. I appreciate the views of consumers and hope they will continue to weigh in on this important issue.”
“We greatly appreciate Secretary LaHood’s leadership in protecting the rights of air travelers,” said Charlie Leocha, Director of the Consumer Travel Alliance, following the meeting. “Without fee transparency, it is impossible for air travelers to know the full cost of their flights or compare prices among various airlines. Hidden airlines fees have inspired nationwide anger among air travelers, and we commend the Secretary for his efforts to fix the problem.”
An excerpt from the group’s letter said:
“Rather than calling for regulation of the amount of these fees, we are simply asking for true fee transparency. Hidden fees are a violation of a traveler’s most basic right: to know how much they will have to pay for their trip. When two out of every three air travelers say they have been surprised by hidden fees at the airport, you know the current system is broken and needs to be fixed.
“Airlines should have to share their fees with every traveler, through every ticketing channel in which they participate, to every point of sale. With the airline world of fees so complex with so many variations on each fee, this is the only way consumers can compare prices on the total cost of travel.
“The airlines have every right to make a fair profit and set fares and fees that allow them to do so. But they have no right to try to hide those prices from their customers.”
In addition to Leocha, participants in the meeting included Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League; Kevin Mitchell, Chairman of the Business Travel Coalition; Karoline Mayr, Director of Global Travel Procurement for Deltek, Inc.; and Anjum Malik, an airline consumer. Joining the U.S. consumer groups that signed the letter was the European Passengers’ Federation. The full text of the letter can be found on the website for the Consumer Travel Alliance here.