June 23, 2015
Contact: Cindy Hoang, NCL Communications, (202) 207-2832, firstname.lastname@example.org or John Breyault, (202) 207-2819, email@example.com
Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL), America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, today highlighted the significant negative impact that cancellation/change fees and mandatory hotel resort fees are having on the traveling public. As the summer travel season shifts into high gear, millions of consumers are likely to experience the frustration of being hit with these poorly-disclosed fees.
In his remarks before the Department of Transportation’s Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection, NCL Vice President John Breyault called for common-sense reforms, including a requirement that cancellation/change fees be refunded in the event that an airline is able to resell vacated seats. He also urged the DOT to require that cancellation/change fees, which brought in nearly $3 billion in revenue for the airline industry in 2014, be prominently disclosed across all sales channels — including airline websites and online travel agents.
“These fees are a cash cow for the airline industry,” said Breyault. “Consumers often can’t predict when they’ll need to change their itinerary. If the airlines are going to sock them with $200 change fees, they can at least be upfront about the fact that they’re going to do it.”
Breyault also called on the DOT rein in the abuse of mandatory hotel resort fees, which hotels across the country have been increasingly charging consumers to cover things like in-room coffee, newspapers, local phone service, or fax service. “When was the last time you needed to fax something from your hotel?” asked Breyault. “Yet, hotels are routinely nickel-and-diming consumers through these required fees for services that most of us never use.”
Breyault recommended that the DOT require mandatory hotel resort fees to be included with the rates for bundled airfare/hotel packages so that consumers can accurately compare rates and make informed, budget-conscious decisions.
“Consumers cannot make informed buying decisions without clear and accurate disclosure of important fees and surcharges before they reach the point of sale,” said Breyault. “This is even more important in the market for airfares and hotels, where consumers often find themselves captive in situations where it’s difficult to fight unfair fees.”
About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.