Nine major consumer & travel groups urge OMB to release transparency rule
September 5th, 2013
Nine of the nation’s largest consumer and travel groups today released a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) urging the Administration to release the long-delayed rule on fee transparency. Andrew Weinstein, Executive Director of Open Allies, and Charles Leocha, Director of the Consumer Travel Alliance, unveiled a banner in front of the US Department of Transportation to highlight the delay.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NINE OF NATION’S LARGEST CONSUMER AND TRAVEL ORGS URGE OMB TO RELEASE RULE PROTECTING TRAVELERS FROM HIDDEN AIRLINE FEES
Long-Delayed DOT Rule Has Now Taken More Than 880 Days to Reach Public
September 5, 2013 – Washington, DC – Nine of the nation’s largest consumer and travel organizations today sent an unprecedented joint letter to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) urging the agency to complete work on and release a long-delayed airline passenger protection rule that may include a requirement for airlines to disclose their hidden ancillary fees for things like baggage and seat assignments. The rule was originally proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on April 4, 2011.
“After waiting more than 880 days for this important DOT rulemaking, our consumer organizations felt compelled to rattle the cage,” said Charles Leocha, Director of the Consumer Travel Alliance. “The system isn’t working when consumer issues like this can languish within the executive branch for more than two-and-a-half years. OMB should finish this final bureaucratic review immediately, so DOT can publish the proposed rule for comments.”
The organizations signing the letter included the Consumer Travel Alliance, Consumer Federation of America, National Consumers League, Consumers Union, Business Travel Coalition, AirlinePassengers.org, Association for Airline Passenger Rights, FlyersRights.org, and U.S. PIRG.
The full text of the letter follows.
September 5, 2013
Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Director
Office of Management and Budget
Washington, DC 20503
Howard Shelanski, Administrator
Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
Washington, DC 20503
RE: Publication of Department of Transportation (DOT) Enhancing Consumer Protections III rulemaking
We the undersigned consumer organizations urge the Office of Management and Budget to complete their work on the delayed Department of Transportation (DOT) Enhancing Consumer Protections III rulemaking. This rulemaking was initiated on April 4, 2011, and now more than 880 days later, has still not been published by DOT for comments.
In 2008, major airlines introduced the first checked-baggage fees one after the other. Since then, airlines have added fees for everything from seat reservations to early boarding and telephone reservations to flight cancellations. These fees and a complex matrix of associated exemptions and exceptions under current rules make it virtually impossible for consumers to compare all-in prices across airlines.
Consumer organizations have worked carefully and steadfastly in good faith through the rulemaking system to redress this airfare price-comparison problem. Delay after delay is demoralizing and damages confidence in our government and its commitment to consumer protections.
This final OMB delay needs to end. After five years of frustration, it’s 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.
We thank you for your help.
Charles Leocha, Director, Consumer Travel Alliance
Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection, Consumer Federation of America
Sally Greenberg, Executive Director, National Consumers League
Ellen Bloom, Senior Director of Federal Policy, Consumers Union
Kevin Mitchell, Chairman, Business Travel Coalition
Burton Rubin, Director, AirlinePassengers.org
Brandon Macsata, Director, Association for Airline Passenger Rights
Paul Hudson, President, FlyersRights.org
Edmund Mierzwinski, Consumer Program Director, U.S. PIRG