It was an accident. I mean, mostly it was. I think. Or maybe not really. I suppose that had I known who I was engaging with I probably wouldn’t have tried so hard to actually have a real debate/discussion/conversation. But there it was.
A post by @TodayInTheSky from USA Today about the “Transparency in Airfares” act recent passed by the House of Representatives called the name a “misnomer” and, while I agree, I actually think it is worse than that. I think it is the US Airlines’ lobbying organization buying influence in Congress at the expense of the consumer and generally lying about things. So I said so.
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) August 11, 2014
I’m not particularly shy about speaking my mind and so I did, explaining to a couple people who replied my position on the issue, specifically the part where airlines are not prohibited from sharing the fare/taxes breakdown if they want to, so long as they also show the full number on the first results page. And, for the vast majority of consumers, it is that “total” number which they care about. One of the responses was from Surya Gunasekara and it included the suggestion that the all-in pricing was characteristic of a “nanny state” among other things.
The conversation went back and forth a few times from there over the next couple hours. Sure, not much in the way of progress was made, but I was enjoying myself well enough. And then I saw a reply from someone else who had been watching the conversation:
— Martin Rottler (@martinrottler) August 11, 2014
Wait…what!??! Yup, turns out that Surya is the Managing Director, Taxes for Airlines for America, the lobbying organization the airlines have formed to represent their interests in Washington. No wonder there was no real discussion but plenty of rhetoric and blind repetition of the standard talking points.
My favorite part was the claim suggesting that the airlines be allowed to advertise a “total” fare which exclude taxes. You know, because the “total” shouldn’t always show the full cost; it is good to only show partial data and call it a “total.” Consumers love that.
The airlines have only themselves to blame for the situation they are in now today. They spent years hiding fees (their own, not those from governments), burying details in the fine print and otherwise misleading customers of the total price of their products. And so now the government has taken a stance to protect consumer interests. Is it more aggressive than other industries? Absolutely. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Much of the world uses all-in pricing across industries and they’re all doing just fine. And the airlines will, too. But maybe they should focus more on not misleading customers on pricing rather than trying to blame the government for the fact that they’ve been massively profitable since the rule change occurred. Surely they cannot believe it is ruining thee business based on the recent results they’ve reported.
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