But let me also say that in his recent Washington Post column Mr. Elliott seems to have taken a swing at a really bad pitch.
Look, this Department’s staff, and the Aviation Enforcement Office in particular, are dedicated to protecting consumers. Dedicated. And I see them working hard every day to accomplish that difficult task.
Mr. Elliott is wrong to suggest otherwise.
Here are some points to consider:
- The Department has a comprehensive disclosure rule covering the sale of flights involving codeshares. Codeshares are flights ticketed by one airline but operated by another, and passengers can't even inquire about--much less buy--a ticket without first having been told if their flight involves a codeshare and who that codeshare airline partner actually is.
- During the past year alone, the Department has issued enforcement orders in 31 cases. We have assessed over $2 million in civil penalties.
- Twenty-one of those cases directly involved violations of what commonly are referred to as our consumer protection rules. These include the codeshare disclosure rule that Mr. Elliott suggests we've been ignoring.
- But they go even further, into deceptive ads, bumping, refunds, and public charter flights.
- We have also conducted on-site compliance visits at the headquarters of 5 airlines, resulting in 3 enforcement orders involving various consumer protection requirements. More such visits are planned to ensure compliance. They were planned long before Mr. Elliot's column.
If people want to argue about what's the most important area of consumer protection, go ahead. But at DOT we're here to help consumers in every aspect of their dealings with airlines.