OPINION: FAA reauthorization bill a missed opportunity to address add-on fees

The National Consumers League (NCL) is criticizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization conference bill released by Congress on Saturday, Sept. 22, for its \lack of any language addressing anticompetitive add-on fees, which are rampant across the industry.

"While there are some things that will benefit consumers in the FAA reauthorization bill, the glaring lack of the bipartisan FAIR Fees Act language is a missed opportunity for Congress to get a handle on the rampant growth of anti-competitive ancillary fees that result in so much consumer aggravation," Sally Greenberg, NCL's executive director, said in a statement.

"The airlines' tone-deafness in this area -- witness American, Delta, United, and JetBlue all raising bag fees to $30 per bag within weeks of one another this summer -- should make it obvious that they will continue to raise fees with impunity until Congress steps in," she continued.

Greenberg also cited what she called "The airlines' outrageous $200 change and cancellation fees" as an egregious example of the fees and penalties that line the industry's pockets while costing flyers billions of dollars every year.

"We applaud the efforts of a bipartisan group of members of Congress, particularly Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN9), and Representative Walter Jones (R-NC3), who worked diligently, albeit unsuccessfully, to get the FAIR Fees Act language included in the final conference agreement," Greenberg added.

She pledged that her organization would continue to work with consumer champions in Congress and elsewhere to raise awareness of the costs of airline nickel-and-diming on flyers, competition, and airport investment.

"This is not an issue that is going to go away," Greenberg said. "The airlines should expect that NCL and our allies will continue to highlight the industry’s mistreatment of its customers at every turn."

Learn more about the National Consumers' League at www.nclnet.org.

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