In a filing submitted to the Department of Transportation (DOT) in response to its Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections final rule, ASTA has asked that the DOT defer the implementation of two rules that mandate how travel agents disclose baggage fee information and that would negatively impact agents’ ability to remain competitive.
Both rules are scheduled to become effective Aug. 23 in the US. One of the mandates in question would require every agent with a consumer web site to immediately refer the consumer to either airline web sites, where the actual fees can be seen, or to another place within the agent’s web site if the baggage fee information is available once they have selected a specific itinerary. The second would apply to all e-ticket confirmations issued by an agent at the completion of an online purchase or post-purchase e-mail confirmations and would require that each include the passenger’s free baggage allowance and the fee for a carry-on bag and first and second checked bags.
“ASTA supports disclosure of ancillary fees to consumers on agency web sites or e-ticket confirmations, as the rules designate, but we are against rules that will incentivize more agencies to stop selling airline tickets altogether, further restricting consumers’ option in how they purchase air travel,” says ASTA president Chris Russo. “We remain committed to working with the DOT to find a practical solution and fully support the DOT’s stance in forcing airlines to provide stronger consumer protection.”
In its petition, ASTA notes that “the desire for speedy action regarding airline practices related to baggage fees should not override the goals of providing an efficient, non-repetitive process for implementing all of the rules related to ancillary fees and avoiding commercial harm to retail firms that support such robust consumer protection rules.”