Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Subcommittee Tackles Airline Customer Service Commitments

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Subcommittee Tackles Airline Customer Service Commitments

Article excerpt

On June 20, the House Subcommittee on Aviation (John Mica, R-Fla., chair.) convened to discuss the progress airlines have made in their voluntary customer service commitments. Representatives from the Air Transport Association (ATA), American Airlines, Aloha Airlines and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) were on hand to testify and reaffirm their voluntary approach to customer service in the airline industry.

The hearing focused on various issues from lost baggage to runway expansion. Carol Hallet, president and CEO of ATA, which represents major airline corporations, stressed that a legislative approach to airline customer service would "ultimately increase the cost of flying for everyone and have an adverse effect on small carriers."

Hallet pointed out that the airline industry is very diverse with corporations such as American Airlines, which flies over 900 aircraft as opposed to Aloha Airlines, which operates a fleet of 18. With delays down 30 percent for the months of January through April as compared to last year, most members of the ATA do not believe that congressional legislation is the appropriate action to be taken at this time. However, they do believe the USDOT must keep a watchful eye on the airline industry in the coming months.

Witnesses were grilled by Reps. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) on issues such as compensation for mishandled baggage and increased compensation for "bumped" passengers. The airlines responded by saying that they are taking steps to prevent lost baggage. In the event of baggage being lost they are trying to recover the baggage in a more timely fashion. …

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