The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is weighing on the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) recent report on airline ancillary fees and released additional findings related to their consumer research report on airline fees in “How America Travels.”
“Airlines have reaped billions in ancillary fee revenue – $7.1 billion in bag and change fees alone in 2016,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA’s president and CEO, in a written statement. “We believe in the free market and in the airlines’ prerogative to price their services. But we also believe consumers deserve choices and transparency in this unregulated market. Travel agents are consumer advocates for their clients; we’re asking the government to do the same by taking action on behalf of U.S. travelers to ensure ancillary fee transparency.”
PSB, a global market research and opinion polling firm, conducted a scientific quantitative study on behalf of ASTA. The firm polled 1,522 Americans ages 25-70 on a wide range of travel topics.
The findings reveal that 79 percent of travelers support requiring airlines to disclose all fees up front; that 75 percent of Americans believe the government should prohibit airlines from charging for carry-on bags; and 66 percent support the prohibition of checked-bag fees altogether.
Additionally, the study found that study Americans are seven times more likely to say the government favors airlines over passengers, with general consensus across genders, generations and income levels.
“We believe strongly that withholding important information from consumers who engage the services of a professional travel advisor harms the traveling public,” said Kerby. “Consumers who purchase their air travel through travel agents should be as informed and empowered as those who buy directly from airlines, so we call on Washington regulators to make sure these travelers can see, compare and buy these fees through their agent.”