Travel advisors could soon have a seat on a key U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) advisory body.
A bipartisan group of House members this week introduced a new bill, the Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (ACPAC) Modernization Act (H.R. 3780), which would expand the ACPAC’s membership by adding a dedicated travel agency seat on this key advisory body within the DOT.
ACPAC, which was created in 2012, is the body responsible for evaluating existing aviation consumer protection programs and providing recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation. It covers a number of consumer topics, including ticket refunds, baggage issues, codeshare flights, transparency in airline ancillary fees, and flight delays
The Committee comprises one representative from each U.S. airline, along with consumer groups, airports, and state or local governments. The expansion was proposed in H.R. 3780 by House of Representative members Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), John Garamendi (D-CA), Marc Molinaro (R-NY), and Julia Brownley (D-CA).
“We commend Congresswoman Titus and her colleagues for recognizing that adding a travel agency representative to this key committee will enhance the work and effectiveness of the ACPAC,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA’s President & CEO. “Advocating for airline consumers is what travel advisors do every day and roughly half of all airline tickets in the U.S. are sold through the agency channel. Giving these small business owners, 70 percent of whom are women, an elevated voice in the DOT regulatory process will help the Department meet its consumer protection mission.”
The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) has been an active participant in ACPAC’s work since 2012, including giving input in some of the five most recent ACPA meetings that have centered around two major DOT regulatory proposal (one on ticket refunds and one on transparency in airline fees). The new legislation would give agencies a permanent seat on the board and would guarantee participation in all of its work.
The expansion is one of ASTA’s main priorities for this year’s FAA reauthorization process and for Legislative Day, which takes place later this month.
“Giving travel advisors a seat at the ACPAC table will bring to the committee valuable insights that are missing today, especially in terms of the real-world impacts of complex proposals pending before DOT,” said Eben Peck, ASTA’s Executive Vice President, Advocacy.
“We are grateful to Congresswoman Titus for taking up this fight on behalf of the more than 2,200 travel advisors in Nevada and throughout the broader industry, and will do everything in our power to see H.R. 3780 through to enactment.”