Consumer Federation of America Consumer Federation of America 1620 Street N

Document Sample
Consumer Federation of America Consumer Federation of America 1620 Street N Powered By Docstoc
					                                 Consumer Federation of America
                                 1620 Street, N.W., Suite 200
                                 Washington, DC 20006

April 18, 2011

Hon. John D. Rockefeller IV                                           Hon. John L. Mica
Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation             Chairman, Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure
U.S. Senate                                                           U.S. House of Representatives
253 Russell Senate Office Building                                    2165 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20510                                                  Washington, D.C. 20515-6256

Dear Chairman Rockefeller and Chairman Mica:

The undersigned are a group of consumer leaders who are concerned about the current state of airline pricing. We are
signing this letter to urge Congress in the final FAA bill to require airlines to disclose and make available all fees through
every ticketing channel in which airlines sell their seats so that consumers can compare the total cost of travel.

Right now, airlines do not share information about ancillary fees with travel agents that sell more than half of the airline
tickets in the U.S. — Mom & Pop agencies, online travel agencies and corporate travel agents. Thus, airline fees cannot be
compared across airlines and consumers are not informed of ancillary fees when they purchase their tickets through travel
agents. When two out of three* air travelers say they have been surprised by hidden fees at the airport, you know the current
system is broken and needs to be fixed.

The Senate version, S. 223 FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act, requires the Department of
Transportation (DOT) to prepare a rulemaking that will provide consumers full price information for airline tickets — airfares
plus optional airline fees. The House version of this bill, HR 658, the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011, does not
include such language.

We urge the conference committee to include an instruction to DOT in the final FAA bill to require airline price transparency.
Hidden fees are a violation of a traveler’s most basic right: to know how much they will have to pay for their trip. Plus, our
free market system depends on price transparency to function properly. Obscuring a portion of the price only serves to mis-
lead consumers by making airfares appear deceptively lower than they actually are.

Airlines should have to share their fees with every traveler, through every ticketing channel in which they participate. With
the airline world of fees so complex with so many variations on each fee, this is the only way consumers can compare prices
on the total cost of travel.

The airlines have every right to make a fair profit. But they have no right to withhold information about prices from their
customers. Congress needs to act to insure that our competitive airline market functions effectively and consumers can make
informed ticketing and optional fee choices.
Thank you for your support of airline consumers,

Charles Leocha           Susan Grant                                      Ellen Bloom              Sally Greenberg
Director                 Director of Consumer Protection                  Director, Federal Policy Executive Director
Consumer Travel Alliance Consumer Federation of America                   Consumers Union          National Consumers League

*Consumer Travel Alliance survey conducted among 1,396 air travelers from August 20-31, 2010

cc: Committee ranking members and all conference committee members