Feel strongly about airline distribution in the US?

If you feel strongly about airline distribution, you just got a lot more time to comment and make your feelings known to …

If you feel strongly about airline distribution, you just got a lot more time to comment and make your feelings known to the US Department of Transportation.

Following a lot of industry investigation the US Dept of Transportation opened a RFI, a Request for Information, in October 2016, to get public comment on the process of how airlines distribute information. The period was due to expire on December 30, 2016, but has now been extended till March 2017.

This is an important background to legislation that could materially impact how airlines sell their products, how intermediaries access airline information and disseminate it, and finally how consumers will get access to this information that is essential to all forms of travel.

There is hardly an industry sector that is more information intensive than the airline industry. Nor is there any that has such a complicated product set, with such volatile pricing.

In this regard it is not for any of us to make the determination of what should or should not be allowed. That will be up to the regulators.

The incoming Administration has actually had some experience in running an airline. However that time was many moons ago, when information access was far more controlled and the sources not so plentiful. Today, information – lots of it, and not all of it accurate – is relatively easy to access.

Fortunately the parameters have for once been nicely laid out by the DoT. I encourage readers to go to visit its page for the relevant briefing.

What is amazing is that DoT has in just 3 months amassed more than 45,000 comments on this request for information. Everyone has weighed in from airlines to intermediaries to associations to consumer groups to lawyers and of course to proponents and detractors on both sides of the argument.

Not a little money is being spent to lobby for more or less regulation on this topic. We must not forget that the US Government deregulated the airline industry under the Carter Administration.

Further it abolished all GDS regulations on 31st July 2004. Some argue that the RFI could result in proposed rule-making that will in effect be re-regulating the GDSs and the marketplace for information about airlines.

So without any commentary at all I simply suggest that you form your own opinion. Please go to this address for the full docket and check out the documents and many of the comments.

We welcome comments here as well. We do recommend that you go and provide the same comments to the docket itself. There is no fee.

NB: Image via BigStock.