The United States Travel Association met with Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Thursday to discuss the future of travel.
Representatives from a number of prominent consumer and travel advocacy organizations met with US Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday to push for action on the most urgent consumer protection issues impacting commercial travelers.
It was the first time in almost five years that consumer advocates were allowed to meet with a US Secretary of Transportation.
Several of the representatives said Buttigieg was “impressed with his transformational vision for protecting consumers’ rights, increasing airline competition, and safeguarding passenger health and safety while flying on commercial airlines through U.S. airports,” and that he was “impressed with his transformational vision for protecting consumers’ rights, increasing airline competition, and safeguarding passenger health and safety while flying on commercial airlines through U.S. airports.”
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Among the things that were introduced were:
– The National Consumers League’s vice president of public policy, telecommunications, and fraud, John Breyault, asked the secretary to make consumer protection a top priority for the DOT. Due to federal preemption and prior court rulings, Breyault emphasized that the DOT is the only consumer protection agency that passengers may resort to seek redress of airline industry violations.
– Kurt Ebenhoch, executive director of Travel Fairness Now, addressed the organization’s stance on ticket refunds and expired travel credits provided to passengers in lieu of full reimbursements due to COVID-19 cancellations. Ebenhoch echoed the parties’ agreement that the Department of Transportation (DOT) should guarantee that ticket coupons provided during the COVID-19 epidemic never expire.
– Consumer Reports’ aviation adviser William J. McGee and Anna Laitin, director of Financial Fairness and Legislative Strategy, urged the Department of Transportation to ensure that families with children 13 and under can always sit together on flights without paying extra fees or paying higher fares. Despite a 2016 legislative order for the Department of Transportation to remedy the problem, nothing has been done, and Consumer Reports discovered that children as young as one, two, or three years old have been given seats alone.
— Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org, said that the Department of Transportation should start a regulation on minimum seat sizes and revise emergency evacuation requirements within a year.