Airline bailout must include strong consumer protections

Today, Consumer Action urged the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to support consumer protection provisions in the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act (HR 6379)—COVID-19 relief legislation introduced by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY).

“HR 6379 is a good step to restoring some important passenger rights, while at the same time limiting overreach by an industry intent on begging for more than $50 billion in government stimulus funds with no recognition that we need strong protections for taxpayers, consumers, workers and passengers to be part of any airline bailout or rescue plan,” said Linda Sherry, director of national priorities at Consumer Action.

Last week, Consumer Action joined a coalition of national consumer and passenger rights groups in a letter calling on Congress to include consumer- and passenger-centric provisions in any airline industry bailout. The groups also urged Congress to fix some long-standing consumer protection concerns. Read the group letter (PDF).

Rep. Lowey’s bill includes protections that would address passengers’ concerns during the current emergency as well some of the anti-passenger terms and fees imposed on the flying public by the deregulated airline industry. HR 6379 provisions would prohibit airline price gouging and require full cash refunds for cancelled flights during the COVID-19 pandemic response. In addition, the bill would require that airlines provide quarterly reports to the Department of Transportation on the revenue they collect from baggage, change/cancellation, seat reservation and other add-on fees.

 

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