A quintet of Democratic senators sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, asking her to delve into an old bugaboo in the airline industry – transparency in advertising fares and price competition among the carriers.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) sent the letter to Chao on Friday ahead of the busy Labor Day travel weekend.
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“We continue to have concerns about potentially anti-competitive and anti-consumer behavior among airlines that may be suppressing consumer ability to make informed flight decisions,” the letter said.
The senators asked the Department of Transportation to reinstate a 2016 Request for Information (RFI) that was suspended in 2017, according to The Hill.
The request would study whether airlines restrict “distribution or display of airline flight information” and whether that “constitute(s) an unfair and deceptive business practice and/or an unfair method of competition.”
Warren and the other four noted that Delta Air Lines prohibits certain third-party price comparison travel websites, including online travel agents (OTAs) and metasearch websites, from fully accessing the airline’s flight data.
“The traveling public depends on third-party price comparison sites to make apples-to-apples comparisons among fares and flights and to select the best price, schedule, and airport from all available options,” they wrote in their letter. “Unfortunately, some airlines appear to be taking steps to restrict consumer access to fare and schedule information on such sites. We strongly urge the Department of Transportation to lift the RFI suspension and continue exploring industry practices on distribution and display of airline fare, schedule, and availability information.”