Two airfare regulations that looked after the consumers’ interests could be scrapped after the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) eliminated two suggested rule amendments that were recommended by ASTA regarding ancillary fees.
The rules would have mandated airlines to disclose the fees they charge for checked bags, seats, carry-ons and more, in a more visible way, to consumers making purchases.
There is now speculation that other protections could also be done away with, including the 24-hour refund rule and full-fare advertising.
After the removal of the proposed changes for ancillary fees, consumer advocate Christopher Elliott analyzed the issue of regulatory change and ventured the DOT may be gearing up to eliminate two other common consumer protections basing on remarks made by the airline industry, in particular, American Airlines (AA).
In AA’s statements about the proposed ancillary fee rules, the airline proposed eliminating the full-fare advertising rule and 24-hour refunds, saying that “the Department should reevaluate existing and proposed regulations and enforcement actions that were not adopted based on any finding of substantial consumer injury, let alone any substantial harm that could not ‘be reasonably avoided.’”
AA also stressed regulations that levy costs that surpass expected consumer benefits should be eliminated, saying:
“In addition to clarifying that regulation should be limited to where substantial and unavoidable consumer injury otherwise would result, the Department should reaffirm that only the most cost-effective regulations will be adopted, consistent with the cost-benefit analysis mandated by Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13777.”
After the AA made the comments, those proposed rules were not long after scrapped by the DOT, leaving Elliot to speculate if the two other rules could be taken away as well.
The airlines are establishing their suggestions for rules amendments on the idea that these will guarantee competitiveness. Elliot however, believes otherwise.
“If the airline industry truly cared about competition and the free market, it should be demanding the elimination of antiquated cabotage rules that limit foreign airlines from flying domestic routes in the U.S., or for the removal of antitrust exemptions to codesharing, another anticompetitive practice sanctioned by Uncle Sam,” Elliott said.
He also emphasized that these consumer protections rules shouldn’t be needed in the first place.
“Airlines ought to be doing this because it’s the right thing to do. The government should not have to tell them,” Elliott stated.