Congress wants to remove regulations that protect you from deceptive airline ticket advertising. Don't let it.
The House Transportation Committee acted with alarming speed last week to move its bill out of committee. Airline lobbyists are working hard, as you read this, to find sponsors for this bill in the Senate Commerce Committee. We need a groundswell of consumer outrage about this airline-engineered congressional attack on truth in advertising.
I’m Charlie Leocha and I have been running Travelers United (formerly Consumer Travel Alliance) in Washington, DC, for the past five years. I collaborated closely with the Department of Transportation (DOT) on shaping the current full-fare advertising rule. I was appointed to the Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protections as the consumer representative by the Secretary of Transportation. I have been working inside the system with congressional staff, testifying before both houses of Congress, coordinating with the aviation industry and working with regulators.
Remember when airlines advertised $19 fares — which, after taxes and mandatory fees were added, cost almost $50. And, international tickets once advertised for $65 actually cost $750 after taxes and fees? That ended a few years ago when government regulators added a reasonable full-fare advertising rule.
Now, Congress wants to void that rule.
Airlines have already bulldozed a proposed bill, bizarrely called the Transparent Airfare Act of 2014, through the House Transportation Committee with no comments, no debate and no consumer input.
Make no mistake: there's nothing "transparent" about this bill. It would effectively legalize airline bait-and-switch pricing, especially online, where most airline tickets are bought.
If the full-fare advertising rule goes "buh-bye," you lose. You'll think your airfares are cheaper than they are. You'll have a harder time comparison-shopping. And what's worse, these price shenanigans could spread to other businesses. Imagine being quoted $2 a gallon for your fuel but paying $4, instead?
Tell Congress to keep the current truth-in-advertising rule. Airlines shouldn't be allowed to lie about their prices. We like knowing how much something we buy actually costs — that's real transparency.