Disgraceful “Transparent” Airfare Act Is Passed by the House: Now What?


Yesterday I wrote this:

The Transparent Airfare Act Gets Sneakily Passed in the House

The F@#$ers did it! Despite the protests from the travel community, consumer advocates, and against the most basic common sense, the sons of bitches quietly passed this piece-of-shit legislation that would allow the airlines–once again–lure customers with low fares only to hit them on the head with taxes and fees. So sneaky these bastards were, they passed it with a “voice vote”, which means we will never be able to thank those who voted for that garbage! Some transparency, huh?

Now, I’ll admit it. I didn’t have to use this kind of language. Sure, it feels right calling f@#$ers the rightful name they deserve. But it’s completely unnecessary. Even if we are talking about a totally dysfunctional bunch of pricks that keeps screwing us over and over again on our own dime, there are better ways to get my point across.

Oops, I think, I did it again.

Here is how the Pittsburgh Post Gazette put it.

Last week, in a scene right out of Netflix’s “House of Cards,” H.R. 4156, the Orwellian-titled Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by voice vote with no chance for debate and no record of how each member voted. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Blair County, chairman of the powerful House Transportation Committee, championed the bill that would benefit only airlines and harm consumers.

That’s much better and more eloquent than calling our representatives a bunch of f@#$ers, I’ll admit. THere is no need for obscenities. Oh, and the bolding is mine.

To know more about this bill and why it came into being, read my previous piece: Airlines Are Slipping Us a Roofie Again. To know more about who fathered that piece of abominable legislation, read this in-deapth analysys by Fly2Travel.

Here we have a clear-cut anti-consumer bill that is only supported by business interests. Yes, the Airline Pilots Association is  a business interest, too; put away your rose-colored glasses, people.

Here we have a bill that was passed with suspended rules, without any open discussion and by voice vote to hide the ayes and nays. Why, oh why, did our representatives feel the need to hide their votes for anything that has the word “transparent” in the title.

Gee, I’m confused. Can it be that the representatives simply didn’t know what they were voting for? That the word “transparency” threw them away? Can it be they are simply incompetent? Unfortunately–and yes, I get the irony–unfortunately, no.

Here is another excerpt from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Since April 9, when H.R. 4156 was passed out of committee (after just nine minutes of discussion by its proponents and without hearings or an opportunity for consumer or travel groups to weigh in), scores of prominent corporations, airport authorities and travel companies have written to Congress outlining their opposition.

Likewise, consumer and travel organizations expressed their strenuous objections to Congress. These groups include AAA, AirlinePassengers.org, Association for Airline Passenger Rights, American Society of Travel Agents, Business Travel Coalition, Consumer Action, consumer advocate Ed Perkins, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, FlyersRights.org, National Association of Consumer Advocates, National Consumers League, Public Citizen, Travelers United and U.S. PIRG. Moreover, 128,000 air-travel consumers joined in strong opposition to H.R. 4156.

I wish, our representatives have been only incompetent, but alas, it’s doesn’t appear to be the case.

Why Is This Bill Important to Our Community?

Well, the truth is, it isn’t important to us. We didn’t really fall for low-balling airline practices before 2011 when DOT put the end to airline bait-and-switch abuses, and we are not going to fall for them now, no matter what. It is kind of annoying to have to sift through the pages, only to have the taxes added at the end of the process, but it’s not a deal breaker. And besides, there are tools like ITA Software. So who cares!

Well, we should. Not everyone is a travel hacker (thank god!), and people who get lured by a low fare will be harmed by the revelation of the taxes and fees on the last page. Besides, there is another danger lurking in the background.

Right now, the bill defines the base fare they want to advertise as “the cost of passenger air transportation, excluding government-imposed taxes and fees”. As such, it seems, the based fare must include their YQ and YR (fuel) surcharges. However, who knows what’s going to happen if they sneak this bill in. Who is to say that 2-3 years from now, they won’t try to “unbundle” the fuel surcharges and advertise $150 fare to London without any fuel surcharges? Again, it’s not a problem to us, but it will be a source of huge pain to an average consumer.

So, What Happens Next?

Right now the bill is in the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. They are going to find the sponsor in the Senate and then, if passed, the bill goes to the president’s desk. In that case, it’s likely that they will try to attach it to a more important bill that Obama won’t be able to veto.

Who said that politics were boring?

There is still a chance to stop the bill, and it doesn’t involve overthrowing the government. First, Senat is not the House. Second, they have had the time to study the Act and the reaction from the consumer groups. Tell these people why passing the Transparent Airfares Act is a terrible idea.

Write Your Senator

And while you’re at it: why not ask your representative how he/she voted in regard to H.R. 4156? Of course, they don’t have to confess, but something tells me that those of them who won’t do, have something to hide.



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Obama will never veto any bill that raises taxes

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