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Open Allies Applauds DOT Rulemaking

April 20, 2011 By: George Dooley Travel Agent

Open Allies for Airfare Transparency, a coalition representing more than 350 agencies, companies and organizations in the managed travel community, issued a statement on the new rules on passenger protections announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). With the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), the Consumer Travel Alliance (CTA) and the Business Travel Coalition (BTC), Open Allies has worked to promote price transparency and full access to airline pricing and fee information.

"This rule is like Apollo 11 passing the halfway point to the moon. It’s a major accomplishment, and DOT Secretary LaHood and his staff deserve great praise for getting us this far, but we still have a long way to go to our destination, ensuring that all travelers can find and compare airline fees, no matter where they book their tickets, “said Andrew Weinstein, director of Open Allies.

"We believe the upcoming rulemaking [on hidden fees] announced today will be the most important one for consumers to date, as it will focus specifically on disclosure of hidden fees for the 60 percent of passengers who book their tickets through non-airline channels. It is critical for DOT to take swift action on the new rule, given the ongoing consumer harm and confusion from such fees being hidden.”

"We look forward to working closely with DOT to help finalize pro-consumer standards requiring airlines to share all of their hidden fees in a transactable format through every sales channel with which they choose to do business,” the coalition said.

Open Allies also offered facts about hidden fees, including:

Major U.S. airlines charged $9.2 billion in ancillary fees last year for things like baggage, seat assignments, and priority boarding, according to the Consumer Travel Alliance.

More than 60 percent of all tickets are purchased through non-airline channels, like traditional travel agencies and online travel sites, with whom the airlines refuse to share those fees, making them invisible to consumers and impossible to compare, according to a report last year by the General Accounting Office.

Two-thirds of consumers said they have been surprised at the airport by hidden fees on their recent trips, according to a survey conducted last year by the Consumer Travel Alliance.



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By George Dooley | April 20, 2011
The upcoming DOT rulemaking on hidden fees will be the most important for consumers.
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