Consumer Groups Question U.S. Inaction on Critical Air Travel Rulemaking

airplaneMultiple U.S. consumer groups made public a letter they've jointly sent to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget about delayed Department of Transportation (DOT) "Enhancing Consumer Protections III" rulemaking.

The letter also was sent to the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The groups said that with no action to date, it's now virtually impossible for consumers to compare "all in" pricing across airlines.

Groups signing the letter include AirlinePassengers.org, Association for Airline Passenger Rights, Business Travel Coalition, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, FlyersRights.org, National Consumers League, Travelers United and U.S. PIRG.

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Here's the text of that letter:

"We the undersigned consumer organizations wrote to your offices in September 2013 requesting that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) complete work on the delayed Department of Transportation (DOT) Enhancing Consumer Protections III rulemaking. As we noted, with ubiquitous airline fees and multiple booking channels, it has become virtually impossible for consumers to compare all-in prices across airlines.

"At that time more than 880 days had passed since the initiation of the rulemaking. Now, more than 1,060 days have passed and OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) have held this rulemaking up for almost a full year.

"Since our last letter 180 days have passed and there has been no action by OIRA and no response to us regarding our questions about the inordinate delay of the passenger protection rulemaking. While the current administration is promoting the good work that can be accomplished by the government for the people, your offices are frustrating consumer protections and not even allowing them to be debated through an open comment process.

"During the past 180 days a backlog of rulemakings has been processed by OIRA, but DOT’s Enhancing Consumer Protections III is still mired within the bureaucracy. According to your own list of Executive Order Submissions Under Review from February 28, 2014, this rulemaking has been languishing longer than all but one rulemaking, and it is the only consumer protection rulemaking remaining under review.

"If there are some significant problems with the proposed rule which was created after extraordinary review and study by DOT, then they can be debated and discussed through the comment process. It is time to release this long overdue rulemaking.

"The tens of millions of airline consumers that we represent deserve better from both the airlines and the regulatory bodies that are tasked with consumer protection rules and enforcement.

 

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