Five democratic U.S. senators, including the likes of Elizabeth Warren, have submitted a letter to the United States Department of Transportation, urging them to lift a two-year long suspension of a Request for Information (RFI) over airline restrictions of consumer access to flight prices and information, while citing an overall lack of transparency from the department.
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Translation: they want to see if airlines are stopping flyers from getting the best deals before they buy a ticket.
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Rob Wyden (D-OR) all signed their names on the letter, which was addressed to USDOT Secretary Elaine Chao “over concerns about potentially anticompetitive and anti-consumer behavior among airlines that may be suppressing consumer ability to make informed flight decisions.”
The complaint, which essentially accuses the department of deceptive business practices, states that back in Oct. 2016, the Department of Transportation received an RFI which expressed concern over airline companies’ restricting consumer access to flight information and wielding an unfair and oppressive monopoly over the industry.
The DOT suspended that request in March 2017, under the pretense that the department needed to “allow the President’s appointees the opportunity to review and consider” the Request for Information.
It’s been two years since that suspension was put in place, and yet the RFI remains suspended, according to the senators’ letter.
As the DOT malingers regarding the request, the letter states that consumers have been forced to rely on third-party price comparison websites in order to select the best option for their flying needs, and levies an accusation against the department that “some airlines appear to be taking steps to restrict consumer access” to such websites.
The letter specifically calls out Delta Airlines and Southwest Airlines for restricting access to their flight information and prices from online travel agents and third-party price comparison travel websites.
The letter “respectfully requests a response by September 20, 2019.”