Thu, Jul 15, 2010
Hanni: Airline Travelers Should Not Live In The "Land Of The
director Kate Hanni (pictured) provided testimony for a
hearing held Wednesday by the Aviation Subcommittee of the House
Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure regarding airline
fees. In her prepared remarks, Hanni called on Congress to "do
something" about out of control fees currently charged by airlines
to its customers.
"Congress, not just DOT, should act now to protect consumers
from the ever increasing number and variety of fees imposed on them
by the airlines," said Kate Hanni, Executive Director of
FlyersRights.org. "These fees, many of which the airlines do not
have to pay taxes on, are simply an effort by the airlines to shift
their financial burdens onto American consumers at a time when they
can least afford them."
In the prepared testimony provided to Congress, FlyersRights.org
said it found that its members believe that the complexity of the
"optional and ancillary fees" now being imposed by most of the
major U.S. domestic airlines makes it very difficult for airline
passengers to calculate the true cost of a proposed flight. This,
in turn, degrades the passenger's ability to compare the total
costs of flying on competing airlines. FlyersRights.org has found
that airline fees, which are estimated to generate over $2 billion
annually, are often unclear to consumers, applied in a manner that
is manipulative and are often excessive and arbitrary.
The U.S. Department of
Transportation has indicated in a pending rulemaking that it would
be satisfied if passengers were just given accurate information
about these "optional and ancillary fees." In its testimony,
FlyersRights.org members strongly disagree with this "information
only" approach and believe that this Congress must act promptly to
set statutory limits on what kinds of fees and charges can be
imposed by airlines and under what conditions.
"Just as they have done with ATMs and credit cards, Congress and
the Administration must do more than force airlines to make the
fees transparent and easier to understand--they should curtail the
imposition of these fees in the first place," added Hanni.
"Airlines like imposing fees rather than increasing fares because
in most cases they can avoid paying taxes which support the safety
and efficiency of our airport system--so consumers are being ripped
off and shortchanged at the same time--enough is enough."
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