Wednesday, 21 May 2014
US Dept. of Transportation OKs "personalized" airline ticket prices
In a potentially disastrous administrative decision, the US Department of Transportation has "tentatively" approved a proposal from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to replace publicly-disclosed tariffs of airfares with "personalized" airline ticket prices.
We are tentatively not convinced by Mr. Hasbrouck"s allegations that customized pricing offers would be illegal because statutory and regulatory provisions still prohibit carriers from charging any price not contained in publicly disclosed, published tariffs, notwithstanding the fact that the Department has exempted carriers from officially filing such tariffs with the Department. The clause in 49 U.S.C. § 41510 under which carriers are to charge only prices identical to those in the tariff "in effect for such transportation" presumed filing of those tariffs with the Department under § 41504 as part of a comprehensive economic regulatory regime. Domestic tariff filing was terminated by the Deregulation Act of 1978. With progressive liberalization of international air services, including implementation of over 100 open skies agreements, the Department has, under § 40109(c) and 14 CFR Part 293, progressively exempted carriers from filing tariffs in liberalized international markets.
The DOT's tentative decision is framed as an order which "direct[s] all interested persons to show cause why the Department should not approve IATA Resolution 787, incorporated in the agreement in Docket OST-2013-0048, subject to the conditions enumerated in the Appendix... Objections or comments to our tentative findings and conclusions shall be filed no later than 21 days from the issuance date of this order. Answers to objections shall be due no later than seven business days thereafter."
I will be filing detailed objections, and invite and encourage others to do likewise. You can submit comments here until 11 June 2014, either by filling in a Web form or by attaching a PDF or word processing document file.
Here are links to some of my previous commentary on this issue:
- Comments to the US Dept. of Transportation on airline pricing (21 February 2014)
- Airlines claim they are already allowed to "personalize" prices (28 August 2013)
- What's wrong with the airlines' proposal for "personalized" ticket prices? (30 April 2013)
- IATA announces plan for personalized airline ticket prices (2 November 2012)
- Airline ticket price transparency (26 January 2011)
- Are common carriers allowed to "personalize" prices? (20 May 2010)
[Update, 30 May 2014: I've filed formal objections to DOT's tentative decision. You can still go to Regulations.gov and submit your own comments until 11 June 2014. More details.]Link | Posted by Edward on Wednesday, 21 May 2014, 10:19 (10:19 AM)