Travelers United, formerly the Consumer Travel Alliance, calls the Airfares Transparency Act, soon to be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives, has some harsh language to describe the proposed bill.
The consumer lobbying group says the bill needs careful consideration and open debate, not what it describes as a "hustled and hushed" vote on the House floor, similar to one t received in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee previously.
"This bill is totally without merit and unnecessary," said Travelers United in a press release. "Everything that this bill claims to do for consumers in regards disclosure of taxes and fees is legal under current Department of Transportation (DOT) rules. Though the title suggests the bill aims at making airfares more transparent, the plain language of the bill does just the opposite. It enables highly deceptive advertising of airfares charges."
The consumer group listed what it described as blatant untruths." Among them?
- The bill sponsors claim DOT forces airlines to hide taxes and and fees, but Travelers United alleges that current rules allow airlines to display taxes and fees -- just less prominently than the full fare in the same advertisements. It believes the bill will simply hide these taxes and fees even more behind a link or a pop-up.
- The bill says airlines want customers to know the extent of airline taxes and fees, when in fact, airlines have many ways to communicate with their passengers that they choose not to use, says Travelers United, citing inflight magazines, videos, boarding passes, blogs, social media, websites and itinerary printouts. "They have chosen not to do so," says Travelers United.
- Travelers United said airlines and the bill's sponsors say they want to make airfares more transparent, but the airline industry has continually fought efforts by travel agents and consumers to make airfares more transparent through publication of mushrooming ancillary fees. "They continue to withhold pricing data from travel agencies that sell more than half of all airline tickets in the country," the consumer group said, claiming that airlines want prices to be more difficult to decipher and compare.
For more information, visit www.travelersunited.org.