The Department of Transportation (DOT) on Thursday
indefinitely suspended public comment on two proposed consumer-protection
measures that the Obama administration put forward during its last months in
The DOT took the steps to "allow the president's
appointees to review and consider this action," it said in Federal
Last October, the DOT issued a request for information from
consumer groups, airlines and other industry stakeholders to determine whether
it should regulate the common airline practice of displaying only some content
offerings through indirect channels, such as OTAs and GDSs, while displaying
their full offerings on their own websites. In late December, the DOT extended
that comment period to March 31 from its initial end date of Dec. 31. That
comment period has now been suspended while the DOT reviews its merits.
The DOT has also suspended the final airline-related
rulemaking process that was begun during the Obama administration. On Jan. 19,
just three days before Obama left office, the DOT proposed a requirement that
airlines and ticket agents (including travel agents) disclose fees for carry-on
and checked bags from the beginning of a fare inquiry.
If enacted, the rule would mean that carriers couldn't show
a ticket price on a web interface, then only later in the sales process show
fees for baggage.
Public comment on that proposal had been scheduled to close
on March 20.
Obama's transportation secretary was Anthony Foxx. Under
Trump, that cabinet position has been filled by Elaine Chao.
The DOT didn't immediately respond to a Travel Weekly email
Thursday afternoon for further explanation on the decision to suspend the two
public comment processes.
The trade group Travel Tech, which represents OTAs, travel
search sites and GDSs, said Thursday that it is disappointed with both
"Consumers deserve transparency in fare and schedule
information and ancillary fees," Travel Tech president Steve Shur said in
prepared remarks. "DOT must live up to its mandate on consumer protection
and ensure consumers have access to all the information they need to make a
President Trump has said reducing regulations will be a key
policy goal of his administration.