With government agency ignoring its legal obligations to the flying public, consumer group says ‘we want our money back’
WASHINGTON – JUNE 24, 2019 – Travel Fairness Now, a consumer advocacy organization representing 70,000 travelers, today urged taxpayers to sign a petition seeking a refund of the tax dollars Americans contribute to the operation of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for failing to provide the flying public with the safety, consumer protection and promoting competition services it has been paying the agency for.
“The record shows the DOT is consistently putting airline industry profits and big business interests ahead of the very people paying their salaries,” said Kurt Ebenhoch, executive director of Travel Fairness Now. “The Airline Deregulation Act – passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in the U.S. House and Senate – clearly expressed the will of the American people regarding DOT protecting consumers and promoting competition, legal requirements the DOT continues to ignore and even defy.”
After failing to provide promised services, DOT should give taxpayers a refund
“From services to retail goods, when a business fails to provide what it promises its customers, they often seek a refund,” said Ebenhoch. “With DOT showing interest in nothing other than serving the special interests of the airline industry, and consumers having little to show for the money they’ve spent, we urge taxpayers to tell Congress that ‘I want my money back.’”
Travel Fairness Now is urging taxpayers to click here to let Congress know that they want a refund of the ticket taxes and federal income tax dollars being paid to fund the DOT.
“Why should the American people pay a government agency that is working against them, hand-in-glove with the airlines, to confuse, deceive and exhaust travelers into spending more and getting less?” asked Ebenhoch. “If DOT is essentially working for the airlines, the airlines should pay DOT’s expenses.”
Survey shows DOT and its agencies have lost public confidence
A recent internal survey of 5,000 travelers found that:
- Only 4% of respondents believe the DOT is fighting for the rights of average consumers, while 50% believe DOT fights for the big airlines.
- Only 34% of respondents believe the DOT is fulfilling its legal obligation to protect the flying public from “preventing unfair, deceptive, predatory, or anticompetitive practices” in air transportation.
- Only 49% trust the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to protect their safety.
- 79% of think it was wrong for DOT to include an airline lobbyist on a consumer panel, something DOT recently did.
- An overwhelming 91% of respondents feel that DOT should include representatives from consumer organizations on task forces about airline consumer issues, something the DOT recently did not do.
DOT’s record is an anti-consumer “Hall of Shame”
- Turning over much of their regulatory responsibility for aircraft safety to aircraft manufacturers and airlines
- Installing a former airline industry lobbyist as Acting FAA Administrator, who is using his position to get the airline industry items on its deregulation wish list that include killing much-needed consumer protections
- Failing to appoint a single, qualified consumer advocate to serve on the four-person Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (ACPAC), and instead appointing someone with no experience in consumer aviation issues
- Failing to develop and implement rules for a law passed by Congress making it easier for families to sit together without paying airline premium seating fees
- Failing to enforce existing laws and rules in 2018 with the lowest fines imposed on airlines in a decade
- Inviting transportation industries to submit a wish list of all the consumer and safety protections they’d like to see eliminated. The U.S. airline industry’s list was nearly 300 pages long
- At the request of the airline industry, delaying and then suspending a request for informationon airline distribution practices, despite pleas for help from nearly 60,000 travelers and interested organizations that petitioned the DOT
- Failing to lead and essentially missing in action during the ongoing 737 MAX crisis
- Allowing unprecedented airline consolidation – While U.S. law says that the DOT is responsible for “avoiding unreasonable industry concentration, excessive market domination, monopoly powers, and other conditions that would tend to allow at least one air carrier or foreign air carrier unreasonably to increase prices, reduce services, or exclude competition in air transportation,” DOT has either approved or sat idly by during a period of unprecedented consolidation in the U.S. and global airline industry that has reduced competition and choice for the flying public.
U.S.-based American, Delta and United have amassed more market power than ever. Their massive market concentration began in the U.S., spread to trans-Atlantic alliances and is now happening with trans-Pacific alliances through cartel-like joint ventures between carriers that DOT chooses to shield from anti-trust laws meant to protect.
About Travel Fairness Now
Travel Fairness Now is made up of more than 70,000 travelers who believe easy, online comparison shopping and genuine airfare transparency are critical to competition, which is vital to health of American families, businesses, communities and the economy. Before travelers can begin the flying experience, they need to survive the buying experience. For more information, visit www.travelfairnessnow.org.
Executive Director, Travel Fairness Now
Mobile: (312) 983-2369