US air travel: National Consumer Protection Week, Not
The Trump Administration has designated March 4-10 as National Consumer Protection Week and invited the public to see what protections the government has provided. FlyersRights.org, the largest airline passenger organization, invites airline passengers to check out their rights at www.flyersrights.org/Know-Your-Rights but expressed dismay that the Trump Administration seems intent on repealing or reducing enforcement of most consumer protections and opposes any new regulation.
Paul Hudson, FlyersRights.org president and member of the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, noted, “The DOT has before it hundreds of safety and consumer protection regulations for repeal. Recently, the DOT Undersecretary for Policy proclaimed the goal of the Trump Administration was ‘to remove onerous regulatory burdens.’“
“In air travel, this means rolling the back the three hour tarmac confinement rule, allowing seats and passenger space to continue to shrink without regulation, allowing scores of fees to mushroom without restriction or disclosure, repeal of full fare advertising rules, allowing airlines to ignore any customer service standards or complaints with 2+ hour phone waits, unilateral schedule changes, no reserves or reliability standards, bumping, frequent computer outages, passenger abuse by airlines or TSA without recourse, increasing congestion delays, maintaining exemptions from all state and most federal consumer protection, exemption from all price gouging laws, most antitrust law, as well as protection from foreign competition.”
“Airlines today seek nothing short of total deregulation plus competition protection to achieve the same status as railroads had in the late 19th Century. In that Gilded Age, unregulated railroad combines controlled long distance transportation, much as airlines do today. But with no consumer, labor or safety regulation, the public learned the hard way about being ‘railroaded’. Only when consumer, labor and safety protections were enacted in the 20th Century did things change. Today, the public is learning anew as its being ’airlined’ with weak and perhaps soon no consumer protection.”