Consumers Union applauds House approval of federal aviation bill, calls for improvements in the Senate

Friday, April 27, 2018

 

WASHINGTON, D.C – The U.S. House today approved the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4), a bill to renew funding for the FAA for the next five years, as well as implement a number of reforms and initiatives by the agency.

 

Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, called the bill a good step forward for providing airline passenger protections on a number of fronts, but cautioned that improvements need to be made in the bill before it becomes law. Prior to the vote, Consumers Union wrote House members urging them to support and advance the legislation.

 

Consumers Union cited several beneficial, pro-consumer provisions in the House-approved bill:

  • Prohibiting forced removal of ticketed passengers
  • Setting minimum seat dimensions
  • Prohibiting cell phone voice calls during flights
  • Setting rules for air ambulance service fees
  • Requiring airlines to provide a clear, succinct statement of consumer rights to compensation in the event of flight delays and cancellations, mishandled baggage, and other events with significant adverse effects

 

However, CU said the bill does not protect ticketed passengers from being bumped from their flight before they have boarded. The bill also takes a major step backward in fare and fee transparency for consumers, reversing a Department of Transportation rule that requires all mandatory taxes and fees to be included in the advertised ticket price. CU noted that consumers are demanding more transparency, not less.

 

“This is the beginning of a good bill for consumers, but Congress can do better,” said William J. McGee, aviation and travel advisor for Consumers Union. “Lawmakers need to strengthen the rights of consumers to know what fares and fees the airlines will charge up front, and to know that fees will be reasonable. People should not be denied their seat when they arrive on time with a ticket, and should know what their rights are in the event of a delay, cancellation, or missed connection. There should be no surprises.”

 

“We will be working to add these basic consumer rights to this bill in the Senate,” he added.

 

Contact: David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org