These accomplishments have been achieved by working closely with our members, national media, the travel industry, the Department of Transportation (DOT), Congress and many other governmental agencies.
Travelers United has cemented its position in Washington as the organization that educates consumers, regulators, legislators and their staff.
- Creation of the Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protections within the Department of Transportation
- Full-fare advertising rule (all airfares must include airfare plus, mandatory taxes and fees)
- Increase in denied boarding compensation to $1,350 if delay is more than 2 hours
- 24-hr ticket change rule (passengers have 24 hours to change or cancel their nonrefundable tickets)
- Increase in lost/damaged/delayed luggage compensation limits to $3,500
- New DOT complaint procedures
- Prior to 2013, DOT acknowledged receipt; end of story
- After our recommendation, DOT put file number on complaint; DOT notified passenger whether complaint is policy-related (to be handled by DOT) or service-related (and sent to airline in which case the airline must acknowledge receipt within 30 days and provide substantive response within 60 days).
- Extension of tarmac delay rules to foreign carriers
- Customer service plan requirements
- Detailed list of required customer service clauses
- Requires foreign carriers to detail customer service plans
- Reimbursement of checked-baggage fee if baggage is lost
- Reimbursement of airfares and unused fees
- Prohibition of opt-out provisions on airline and ticket agent sites (boxes on websites must only be opt-in rather than opt-out)
- Ban of post-purchase price increases (once an airfare is purchased, that airfare and ancillary fees cannot be increased)
- Notification of flight status changes (every 30 minutes)
- Spearheaded efforts to stop the American Airlines/US Airways merger (unsuccessful, however the DOT is highly sensitive to anti-competitive alliances
- Families flying together act passed by Congress that requires family members 13 years of age and younger to sit with other family members at no additional cost.
- Baggage refund rules — lost bags get full baggage fee refund; delayed bags also get fees refund (rules currently being created after law has been passed).
- Eliminated voice calls on planes.
Bus Carrier Activities
- After consumer complaints about bus stations closing and stranding passengers in the cold after midnight, a meeting with then Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, resulted in an agreement with Greyhound to keep bus stations open to accommodate late night /early morning connections.
- Met with American Bus Association and DOT’s Motor Vehicle Safety division to encourage consumer protections for bus passengers
Cruise Line Activities
- Helped draft legislation to create a cruise line bill of rights and protect cruise passengers from crime outside the territorial waters of the U.S.
- Worked with Cruise Line Victims Association to allow US law enforcement to investigate crimes aboard cruise ships operating outside of the 12-nautical-mile national limits.
- Created partnership with the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) to strengthen the consumer voice in matters rail related and bring NARP members into the conversation in all travel related matters.
- Created chapter in Travel Rights e-book focused exclusively on rail-related travel issues
Other Accomplishment and Current Activities
- Worked together with Airlines For America (A4A) to reopen control towers during 2012 sequestration
- Instrumental in bringing the DOT and FTC together for the first time to discuss travel privacy issues; and initiated the first meeting of all stakeholders in the travel market to discuss privacy issues — airlines, travel agents, online travel agents, GDSs, DOT, FTC and consumers
- Working with FTC to eliminate resort fees and the practice of drip pricing
- Proposing the display of posters at airports informing passengers about rights in terms of lost luggage, overbooking, flight delays and tarmac delays.
- Working together with A4A, US Travel Association, International Air Transport Association, Global Business Travel Association and other parties to reduce wait-time for foreign visitors (often over 4 hours) and returning citizens (often over 2 hours) at Custom and Border Patrol airport gateways
- Working together with USTA, A4A, ALPA and GBTA to stop increases of government-imposed taxes and fees. The TSA security fee were increased over our strong objections; a lawsuit is proceeding to roll back the redefinitions imposed by TSA. Current efforts are underway to prevent the proposed increases in the Passenger Facilities Charges, Agriculture Inspection fees and Customs and Border Protection fees.
- Working with congressional staffers to shape a bill freezing regressive local taxation of rental cars