The Business Travel Coalition (BTC) has launched a “We the People” White House petition in a 30-day effort to restore what they see as “true air travel comparison-shopping for consumers” through a 2013 U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM.)
The BTC argues that since 2008, most major U.S. airlines have been charging for ancillary services, such as premium seating and checking bags, and withholding fee information from travel agencies. The petition claims that consumers can’t efficiently compare prices of other airline offers and are forced to search multiple airline websites to search for fees and pay for them separately. The BTC states that consumers need to be “able to see, compare and buy the complete air travel product.”
The coalition has until December 25 to obtain 25,000 signatures. If successful, White House officials will review the request and make a public statement. The outcome could affect the DOT’s rulemaking on airline practices. However, the BTC said “airlines have been and will continue to aggressively fight such a rule with their vast resources as there is great profit in consumer confusion.”
Airlines say that fee information is not always black and white. Some airlines offer bundled services, either as fare families or as packaged add-ons to the base fare, which are not easily compared. For example, priority boarding might be combined with a “mileage booster” feature or a discount on itinerary changes, according to an article in Air Transport World.
The BTC has prepared “We the People” campaign Communication Toolkits for each industry segment to communicate the petition and lobby the White House.