USDOT Takes Key Steps to Implement Menendez Provisions to Increase Consumer Protections for Air Travelers

USDOT Takes Key Steps to Implement Menendez Provisions to Increase Consumer Protections for Air Travelers

NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today applauded the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) for heeding his advice in taking steps to adopt stronger consumer protections for air travelers, but continued his push for swift action to guard against a powerful airline industry that routinely seeks new ways of nickel-and-diming its customers and hiding the true cost of travel.

“Consumers are fed up with an airline industry blinded in the pursuit of higher profits.  Air travelers are sick and tired of being slapped with hidden fees every time they book and they deserve to know the true cost to fly upfront,” said Sen. Menendez.  “I’ve been fighting for years to protect airline customers from an industry that will stop at nothing to squeeze them for every cent they have.  I applaud the steps announced today by the Department of Transportation and will continue to work with DOT to expedite these new provisions to strengthen consumer protections for air travelers.”

USDOT announced a series of new proposed rule makings to enhance protections for air travelers and promote competition in the airline industry after Sen. Menendez previously proposed consumer protections on surprise fees and forcing the airlines to disclose all fare and flight options that match a customer’s travel needs.

In line with Sen. Menendez’s Clear Airfares Act, a bill he first introduced in 2008 to require better disclosure of hidden fees, USDOT will build upon tougher standards it proposed in 2014 by exploring additional requirements for airlines to provide consumers with all-in pricing information—including fees for baggage, advance seat assignments and priority boarding often sold separately—to reflect the true cost to fly.

Sen. Menendez in April called for an investigation into unfair and deceptive practices by large airlines after they each changed their disclosure practices for multi-city itinerariesThe Senator wrote to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx after air travelers who visit multiple destinations were being charged hundreds of dollars more when they booked round-trip versus one-way fares for the same exact flights.   

Sen. Menendez has long advocated for greater consumer protections for air travelers.  He has cosponsored a measure to require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to set minimum seat- and aisle-size standards to combat airlines’ attempts to further squeeze passengers in order to maximize profits. 

In February, he reintroduced his Real Transparency in Airfares Act to reinforce existing consumer protections and double the penalties for those companies that try to deceive their customers by not advertising upfront the full cost of an airline ticket.  The Senator last year convinced the airlines to abandon their trade group’s plan to shrink the size of allowable carry-on bags in order to collect more checked-bag fees