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Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee is failing consumers

Consumer group letter to DOT Secretary Chao details how advisory committee is not addressing pressing airline passenger concerns during the pandemic 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter sent today to Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Consumer Reports and a number of other consumer groups expressed their deep frustration that the Department’s Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee is ignoring the most pressing airline passenger complaints and concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter notes that many Americans are concerned about the risk of contracting the coronavirus while flying, and that a record 50,000 consumers filed complaints with the DOT about the airlines’ refusal to provide refunds for canceled flights during the crisis.  Neither topic was addressed at last week’s Committee meeting, which was only the second such meeting since the Committee was reconstituted in the fall of 2018.

While the meeting included discussions of various issues affecting consumers, Committee members either ignored concerns previously raised by consumer groups, or maintained that the marketplace had already adequately addressed passenger complaints.

“During the meeting last week, there was never any hint of any member having a view different from that of the airline representative,” the groups wrote.  “[N]o one was advocating on behalf of consumers – not even the representative ostensibly appointed to represent the viewpoint of consumers, whose focus was on the profitability of the airline industry, and on letting market forces determine consumer protections.”

The letter to the DOT was signed by Consumer Reports, Business Travel Coalition, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, EdOnTravel.com, FlyersRights.org, National Consumers League, Travelers United, Travel Fairness Now, and U.S. PIRG.

A complete copy of the consumer groups’ letter with a more detailed description of these issues can be found here.