ASTA Hails DOT Rule Fix A Victory for Agents

ASTA reports a Department of Transportation’s (DOT) rule change will save the travel agency industry more than $58 million in initial training and programming costs and $26 million per year in ongoing compliance costs.

In a statement, ASTA applauded the DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for taking a common sense approach to the way travel sellers communicate information about hazardous materials to the flying public.

Imbedded within a large Hazardous Materials Harmonization Rulemaking published in the Federal Register on Aug. 25, PHMSA has proposed revising its hazardous materials rule [49 CFR 175.25(b)] for telephone and in-person reservations that requires travel sellers.

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Effective effective Jan.  1, 2015, the rule would require agents to (a) verbally recite the hazardous materials notice and (b) obtain the purchaser’s acknowledgement that they understand the rules before being allowed to purchase a ticket, ASTA said.

PHMSA’s revised rule for telephone and in-person transactions eliminates the acknowledgement requirement, and permits, as an option, the disclosure to be fulfilled by including a notice on the e-ticket confirmation, according to ASTA. 

“Removing the verbal pre-ticketing disclosure and acknowledgement burden is a huge victory for the travel agency industry, and is good for the traveling public," said ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby

"Over the past three years ASTA has argued, and the government has now agreed, that this rule makes no sense with over-the-phone and in-person transactions. The public interest will continue to be served, as travelers will be given the notice with their ticket, and again at check-in, which they must affirmatively agree to understand before their boarding pass is issued,” said Kerby.
 
PHMSA’s new rule is consistent with ASTA’s March 25 petition requesting that DOT rescind or modify the existing telephone and in-person requirements. In its petition, ASTA asked DOT, as an alternative, to model the disclosure requirement after its baggage fee disclosure rule, which is fulfilled when an e-ticket confirmation is produced and distributed to the purchaser.

ASTA, as a member of the Aviation Rulemaking Committee responsible for producing the industry guidance document—an Advisory Circular (AC)—said it will work with PHMSA to ensure a smooth adoption of the new rule. 

The association said it will represent its members on these and other related issues.Visit www.ASTA.org.

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