Consumer groups are condemning airlines for pocketing tax money that should have gone to consumers and for continuing to make airline fees unclear.
The groups voiced their concerns in a letter to the CEO of the Air Transport Association.
The consumer groups say airlines pocketed nearly $500 million when the FAA tax was temporarily stopped. Consumers didn’t see reduced fees when the taxes were suspended.
“This could have been a profound teaching moment,” the consumer interest groups wrote, “regarding the benefits of lower aviation taxes and fees. Instead, we are chagrined that some airlines chose to pocket the substantial windfall created by the expiration of taxing authority. Rather than doing right by their customers, most airline CEOs decided to line their corporate pockets.”
These consumer groups also argue that the airfares actually raised their airfares.
The Consumer Travel Alliance, Consumers Union, National Consumers League, Consumer Action, US PIRG, AirlinePassengers.org, Association of AIrline Passenger Rights and Consumer Federation of America all signed the letter.
Eventually, the tax was reinstated.
The letter also addressed fee transparency. In August, new rules started requiring consumers be told about optional fees, but the consumer groups feel the airlines are not going far enough.
“Actions speak louder than words,” the groups wrote. “Airlines, like all businesses, should be driven by customer service, price transparency and honest disclosures. Suffice it to say, we are disappointed in most of the airline industry’s response to the new DOT rules.”
The consumer groups want a meeting with ATA and have notified the Secretary of Transportation and Congressional leaders.