March 21, 2016
Contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang, email@example.com, (202) 207-2832
Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) today called on Congressional leaders to build on the bipartisan support for pro-consumer amendments to the Senate’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act as the bill moves toward a vote on the floor of the Senate.
Last week, thanks to the diligent work of Senators Blumenthal, Klobuchar, Markey, and Nelson, the Senate Commerce Committee passed a FAA Reauthorization Act that includes many pro-traveler provisions that address concerns consumers have voiced for years. Requirements including airlines refund baggage fees when luggage arrives late, increased fee disclosure rules, and improvements to the Department of Transportation (DOT) complaint process are all provisions of the bill that will improve the flying experience for millions of travelers. However, there remain many serious issues that need to be addressed as the bill moves toward a floor vote.
In particular, NCL urges the full Senate to improve the bill by passing pro-consumer amendments like Senator Markey’s FAIR Fees Act, which received bipartisan support to prohibit air carriers from imposing fees that are “not reasonable and proportional” to the costs incurred by the air carriers. The Senate should also approve Senator Schumer’s proposal to require the FAA to establish minimum seat and seat pitch size standards.
“Industry consolidation, cheap fuel, packed planes, and a never-ending list of fees have combined to drive airline industry profits to historic levels,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL executive director. “The Senate Commerce Committee took the first step, and now it’s time for the full Senate to step in and ensure that the industry’s profits are not coming at the expense of consumers’ safety and pocketbooks.”
The FAA Reauthorization Act is also an important opportunity for the Senate to act on NCL’s recommendations that additional consumer protections be mandated to protect the flying public including:
Mandating that all ancillary fee data be reported so that consumers can compare flights based on the true cost of flying, not just a deceptively low base fare;
Giving the Department of Transportation authority to regulate unfair and deceptive acts and practices in the market for travel insurance;
Requiring travel insurance loss ratios to be reported, as the Affordable Care Act requires of health insurance providers;
Tiering cancellation fees based on the proximity of the travel dates;
Allowing consumers to transfer their tickets to another traveler without incurring a fee; and,
Eliminating standby fees for missed flights.
About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.