U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been without doubt the most pro consumer advocate and leader of the Department in its history. The Secretary’s 2009 3-hour tarmac delay rule was historic. His senior staff intensely shares his passion for fair treatment of airline consumers and goes about their complex regulatory work with pronounced thoughtfulness as evidenced by the recently publicized second consumer protection rule. As the U.S. airline industry consolidates and immunized global alliances gather strength, such advocacy is of paramount and growing importance. However, there is a consumer protection opportunity at DOT that requires the Secretary’s attention.
Airlines assert that a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requirement that they prominently display the full price of an airline ticket (base fare, taxes, fees) in a print or online advertisement treats them differently than other industries. They are correct. There is a reason. They are treated differently on many different levels.
The Business Travel Coalition has offered some helpful advice to airlines that find themselves struggling to pay fuel bills and also please their customers. Airlines are facing a potential backlash from angry customers who are fed up with increases in airfares and hidden ancillary fees. Is there a better solution?