Airline Passenger Protections Under Review

For the first time since the airline industry was deregulated in 1978, an advisory committee mandated by Congress is conducting hearings on the state of aviation consumer protections, according to Charlie Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance (CTA).
The initial Advisory Committee on Aviation Consumer Protections (ACACP) meeting, which is open to the public, will be held today. The advisory committee is overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

"The committee will examine some of the recent dramatic changes in aviation consumer protections as a result of bankruptcies, low-fare start-ups, burgeoning airline fees, confusing codeshares and questionable international airline alliance antitrust immunity, " Leocha  says.

"This is an historic opportunity to examine the aviation world from the viewpoint of consumers following 30-plus years of airline deregulation," says Leocha. "Aviation is a unique part of Americas economy where the rulemakers at the DOT not only write the rules but serve as the sole judge and jury for most violations."

In this first session, ACACP committee members will review a diversity of issues, including: DOTs enforcement of current rules regarding tarmac delays, lost luggage, overbooking, passengers with disabilities, airline codesharing and newly enacted regulations covering full-fare advertising. Other issues include new 24-hour grace period and flight-specific baggage disclosures on flight itineraries required after airfares have been purchased.

Representatives of consumer groups, business travelers, travel agencies, travel organizations, the airports and airlines will each have an opportunity to discuss consumer protections and where those regulations need to be strengthened, Leocha notes.

Well known issues for consumers and business travelers are the failure of airlines to adequately disclose baggage and seat-reservation fees and family complaints about being forced to pay hefty extra fees to sit with their young children, he says.

"We want to make sure that the committee has a broad mandate," explains Leocha. He intends to include issues like privacy of travel data being collected by airlines and giant central reservation systems, among them. Rights for aggrieved passengers to bring suit against airlines in state courts rather than face the gauntlet of federal courts is another issue Leocha wants addressed. Better consumer education efforts that might explain airline passenger rights and rules is another CTA goal.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan chairs the advisory committee. In addition to Leocha, other committee members include David Berg, from Airlines for America, the airline representative, and Deborah Ale-Flint, director of aviation at Oakland International Airport, representing airport operators.

Visit www.consumertravelalliance.org.

FREE Virtual Event

Pivoting Back to Travel: Phase 4

Are you prepared to guide your clients through the “new normal” of travel? Join us December 15, 2020 from 1pm-2:20pm EST for Pivoting Back to Travel: Phase 4. The upcoming installment of our FREE virtual series will feature presentations from the Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, and Seabourn on their most up-to-date travel procedures, health & safety protocols they’ve implemented to keep guests safe, activities that are open to visitors, what your clients need to know while on their trip and more! Visit www.pivotingbacktotravel to view the full agenda and register for your FREE pass.

Suggested Articles:

ID Travel Group has announced the winner of its third Bonham-Carter Graduate Scholarship at Oxford University. See more here.

Eighty-seven percent of people who voted in the November 3 election support a new round of coronavirus-related relief from Washington. Read more here.

The U.S. Department of Transportation ruled this week that airlines do not have to recognize emotional support animals as service animals. Learn more.