A group of six large travel management companies last month sent letters to U.S. House and Senate committees requesting that Congress add an agency representative to a Department of Transportation committee on aviation consumer protection for input on rulemaking proposals concerning airlines.
The Travel Management Coalition—composed of American Express Global Business Travel, BCD Travel, Corporate Travel Management, CWT, Direct Travel and Internova Travel—sent letters on Feb. 24 to the Senate Commerce Committee and on Feb. 27 to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. The coalition requested that Congress add an agency representative to the DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee, which currently includes members from airlines, airports and state and local governments, as well as consumer advocates.
In particular, the group wants agency input on two DOT rulemaking proposals: on ancillary fees and on airline refunds. The coalition in December called on DOT to alter its proposed rule on the latter, and the group's letters to Congress reiterate concerns voiced in that letter to DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg about making TMCs liable for refunds even when the transaction took place directly between the customer and the airline.
The letters further outline the coalition's concern with the ancillary-fee proposal. The group has asked to be exempt from this proposal "as corporate travel agents facilitate transactions between airlines and corporate customers, not the general public."
The coalition argued that if corporate travel were subjected to displaying ancillary fee information the first time a traveler searches for a fare, the additional data required to be displayed in a corporation's self-booking tool "would be burdensome, unnecessary, and potentially frustrate the corporations and their frequent business travelers purchasing airline tickets with business, not personal funds."
The coalition also is lobbying for the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, which is currently approved for funding through Sept. 30, 2023.