Airline passengers frustrated by poor customer service may get some relief from a new consumer protection committee formed to advise the Secretary of Transportation. The re-authorization of the FAA in February established a four-seat committee to evaluate existing consumer protection programs and make recommendations on changes. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be required to report the committee’s recommendations to Congress by next February. He’ll be tasked with explaining how these recommendations are implemented, or if not, why they weren’t.
USA Today reports that while Secretary LaHood (pictured) plans to move as quickly as possible to appoint committee members and schedule the first meeting, there are doubts about how effective the committee will be due to the representation of airlines and airport. The group will be comprised of airlines and airport representatives, consumer protection representatives and a state or local government official with consumer protection experience. The non-profit consumer group Aviation Consumer Action Project says it’s unlikely the group will be effective because of the seats filled by representatives of employers who have opposed most, if not all aviation consumer protection regulation.
Steve Lott, spokesman for the group representing major U.S. airlines, Airlines for America, wouldn't comment on whether the board would be ineffective as some claim because two of the members would be from the industry. He said that airlines are committed to building on their "record operational performance and delivering an even better customer experience through passenger feedback and coordination with other industry stakeholders."