WASHINGTON – March 23, 2021 – Travel Fairness Now, a non-profit coalition that supports greater competition, transparency and fairness for consumers, today asked the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to give consumers an equal seat at the table in the development of policies affecting the flying public. The organization also asked that DOT consider the entire, end-to-end travel experience that make up any leisure or business trip.
At the March 2021 meeting of the prestigious Aero Club of Washington, the keynote speaker, the CEO of Southwest Airlines – the largest domestic airline in the U.S. – commented on the “amazing access” he’s had to the new Secretary of Transportation and that he’s “had multiple meetings” with him.
American consumers deserve the same access.
“Representational fairness for consumers is necessary for the American people to have the government they deserve, want and pay for,” said Kurt Ebenhoch, executive director of Travel Fairness Now. “While the views of all stakeholders are important, American taxpayers pay the cost of DOT and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and expect these government agencies to be looking out for them — first and foremost.
“Americans are understandably upset to face surprise fees and inflexible policies from the same companies that continue to receive billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded aid,” Ebenhoch added. “Now more than ever, consumers should have the same access to policymakers and regulators that powerful interests do.”
New approach needed for a better consumer experience
Recovery of the travel industry will require greater consumer access to information, restoring traveler confidence, transparency of data – especially related to health and safety – and what countries and industry are doing to meet these goals.
Travelers are more than consumers of transportation. A macro view of travel leads to consideration of a broader scope of services. From visiting family to meeting with a current or prospective customer, to exploring different parts of the world, travel has many distinct aspects and economic drivers.
In order to protect travelers, Travel Fairness Now believes we need to consider transportation but more importantly, consider the entire, holistic travel and tourism experience. Governments have to engage in a deeper and more expansive view – with the American consumer at the center of it.
Put consumers at the center of policy considerations
Building travelers’ confidence demands a consumer-centric approach with consumers having first-among-equals parity among other stakeholders. It also requires a more sophisticated DOT understanding of how travel works in today’s world.
“DOT has an opportunity to reshape the paradigm that almost exclusively protects airlines without a broader view of the larger travel and tourism ecosystem that is part of the entire experience,” said Ebenhoch. “The scales are tipped so far in favor of not just business, but one single big business within the larger travel and tourism ecosystem, that the entire travel ecosystem is harmed.”
About Travel Fairness Now
Travel Fairness Now is a non-profit coalition of travelers advocating for greater transparency, competition and fairness in travel. For more information, please visit www.travelfairnessnow.org.
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