The Consumer Travel Alliance has recommended the following for consideration by the Department of Transportation (DOT) Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protections (ACACP). The third meeting takes place on October 2, 2012, to prepare recommendations to be forwarded to the Secretary of Transportation for a report to Congress.
1. The airlines be required to clearly inform passengers of the basic costs of travel — airfare, baggage fees and seat-reservation fees at the time of purchase — at every point where they choose to sell airline tickets and allow full transaction of the entire purchase.
2. Consumer complaints sent to DOT should be acknowledged with a file number and disposition of the complaint — i.e. It was forwarded to the airline or it has been filed by DOT for a policy violation.
3. Passenger-specific baggage fees should be printed on ticket itineraries for all domestic and international flights that are in control of a single airline or domestic codeshares. For international flights involving foreign carrier code sharing or international alliance flights the controlling carrier for baggage rules and fees must be indicated clearly and links to determine final baggage charges must be included.
4. DOT should develop a basic definition of flight terms that most airlines use in their contracts of carriage such as lost luggage, misplaced luggage, thru-flights, direct flights, non-stop flight, force majeure, mechanical delay, and others. Such terms should be posted on the DOT website so that they can be used by passengers as definitions necessary in understanding contracts of carriage.
5. Customer service numbers for each airline must be included on a flight itinerary. Toll-free customer service numbers or other electronic communications systems where passengers can contact customer service reps should they have airline problems during their travels. These phone or electronic contacts become most important when passengers have problems in foreign airports dealing with airline alliance partners.
6. Airlines should be required to post a plain English Contract of Carriage and clearly indicate when changes have been made to the document and what specifically changed in each version. Passengers are subject to the contract of carriage that was in effect at the time of airfare purchase. This includes all subsequent fees and service charges that may be incurred in the future.
7. A block indicating that passengers have read the contract of carriage and customer service plans should be included in the process of purchasing online tickets. This presentation of the contract can be similar to the conditions of use used when software is installed.