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Agent Advocates Gain Senate Support on Hidden FeesSeptember 24, 2010 By: Staff
ASTA, the Business Travel Coalition (BTC) and the Consumer Travel Alliance (CTA) are applauding a letter sent yesterday by seven U.S. senators to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, commending his leadership and his department’s efforts to protect consumers. The three groups have already gained strong consumer/traveler support with 50,000 plus signatures for ending hidden airline fees as well as support from 300 plus travel management companies and corporations.
In the letter, Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), George Lemieux (R-FL), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) and Mark Begich (D-AK) urge LaHood to “continue requiring increased disclosure of ancillary fees on airline tickets as well as facilitating that disclosure by requiring the sharing of fee information by air carriers to travel agents and online travel companies.”
“We believe consumers are entitled to full and host disclosure of all fees and charges associated with air travel before they purchase a ticket, whether directly from an airline or from a third-party intermediary,” the letter states. “ In order for this level of disclosure of ancillary fees to occur, it is essential that traditional travel agents and online travel companies—which together account for the sales of more than half of all airline tickets purchased in the United States—have easy access to fee information. That means requiring timely and full disclosure by airlines of ancillary fees to travel agencies via the global distribution systems (GDSs) that agencies almost universally use as their source of dare information.
“To have a letter come out with such strong and unequivocal support of our position is tremendous,” Paul Ruden, senior vice president of legal and industry Affairs for ASTA, commented. “The travel agency community is extremely gratified to have their support. The senators are to be commended for seeing through the hype and cutting to the heart of the issue.”
“The American public made it clear today that they have had enough nasty surprises at the airlines’ behest,” said Charlie Leocha, president of the CTA. “Now, with this additional show of backing, we know that consumers’ cries have not fallen on deaf ears.”
“It’s never been about the fees themselves, as the Senators note,” said the BTC’s chairman Kevin Mitchell. “The issue has always been disclosure so that travel agencies have complete and timely fee information to enable comparison shopping for the leisure traveler or the business traveler utilizing a corporate online booking tool powered by the agency. We hope the support of these Senators will encourage other members of Congress to weigh in with Secretary LaHood.”
ASTA, BTC and CTA have been involved in the Mad as Hell About Hidden Fees campaign, which culminated with the delivery to the DOT of a petition signed by more than 50,000 Americans, demanding that the unjust airline practice of hiding ancillary fees from the traveling public be stopped.
To learn more about the campaign and read stories shared by some of the thousands of people who signed the petition, visit MadasHellAboutHiddenFees.com.