Major consumer groups have sent a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives, urging them to reject the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014.
The letter -- signed by AirlinePassengers.org, the Association for Airline Passenger Rights, Business Travel Coalition, Consumers Union, consumer advocate Ed Perkins, FlyersRights.org, National Consumers League, Travelers United and U.S. PIRG -- says the groups have learned that H.R. 4156, the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, is on the short list in the House for possible inclusion on the Suspension Calendar prior to the House's August recess.
The consumer groups characterize H.R. 4156 as "contentious legislation that would harm millions of consumers by reversing a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rule implemented in 2012 as a cure to misleading airline advertising."
The letter told House members: "We urge you to strongly object to the inclusion of H.R. 4156 on the Suspension Calendar.
The groups said they weren't alerted to the prospect of this legislation, nor were we provided any opportunity for input before Committee markup. "H.R. 4156 was rushed by voice vote through the House Transportation Committee on April 9, 2014 after just nine minutes of discussion," the letter stressed.
"There were no hearings, no outreach for public opinion," the parties also emphasized. "This rushed process has denied other stakeholders an opportunity to inform Congress of their views and the flaws in this bill."
The consumer groups state in the letter that "after steamrollering the bill through Committee, airlines hope to rush the bill through the House under Suspension of the Rules. But this is not the type of unobjectionable proposal that the Suspension Calendar is designed for; rather, it is harmful and controversial special-interest legislation."
The groups said there isn't any one consumer group or business travel organization that supports this legislation, noting that most have publicly criticized both the bill and the rushed process.
Calling the actions "anti-consumer," the consumer groups also said that the legislation is designed to "mislead consumers about the real price of airfare -- to the benefit of airlines, but at the expense of consumers."
The groups cited editorials by both the New York Times and Washington Post in support of their position against the planned legislation.
In the letter, the consumer groups urged the House of Representatives to stand up against what they term "this anti-consumer move by the airlines" and to ask House leadership not to schedule this highly controversial bill for the Suspension Calendar.
Instead, they asked House members for a fair opportunity for travel industry and consumer groups to provide input on the legislation and assure proper deliberation by Congressional members.
For more information on the consumer groups' views on the topic, visit http://btc.travel.