DOT Transparency, 24 hour hold, Spirit & Politics

Opinion: US Congressman Drinking Coolaid

I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of US Congress.  At the very least, they should have term-limits, and when it comes to new legislation, please stop drinking the corporate cool-aid.

One such member of Congress, drunk on corporate cool-aid, is US House Representative Tom Graves (R-Georgia).  He has introduced a bill that will eliminate the consumer protection, specifically the transparency clause, the US Department of Transportation now provides air travelers.  We talk about such transparency in our DOT Transparent Airfare Pricing article.

Perhaps Representative Graves is drinking the special flavored cool-aid they’re handing out at Spirit Airlines. Spirit Air is so unhappy with new consumer protections that they’re taking significant time and effort to spin and confuse the American public. Perhaps Spirit has discovered the secret is out: $9 fares do not exist.

When I want to buy an airline ticket, provide me the choices and the full cost upfront.

Spirit is now attacking the “24 hold” period by exaggerating claims they won’t be able to fill up planes with such a policy.

Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) offered a 24 hour cancellation period for the entire year of 2011 and yet made a spectacular profit this past year.  Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV), the original low cost carrier in the United States, has had a very liberal policy for years, allowing passengers to cancel their trips – at any time without penalty – and use the credit within a year. Southwest has been profitable for years – even in past years when legacy carriers were in the red, Southwest made profits.

I’d love it if Ben Baldanza, President and CEO of Spirit Airlines would explain exactly how this 24 hour hold will impose more cost to the consumer; so far, I only see a phoney $2 DOT UC Fee Spirit will start collecting on new ticket sales to cover the cost of “unintended consequencesallegedly created by this US Department of Transportation rule. This $2 fee, like all other revenues, just goes into the corporate coffers.

Spirit Airlines certainly isn’t flying for charity – they exist to make profit and to create value for their shareholders (NASDAQ:SAVE) as a publicly traded company.

Does Spirit really believe “it’ll take seats out of inventory for those who may or may not decide to pay” – keeping in mind this is only for 24 hours and price sensitive customers tend to book early.  On top of this, to make sure capacity is at its highest, it seems strange Spirit didn’t mention how they overbook.  Afterall, I seem to recall Spirit was hit with a large fine a few years ago for overbooking, lost bags, and what’s this, advertising practices?

Does Spirit really believe low fares help the consumer most? What about Spirit’s real customers, the stockholders? Last, how does an airline that charges for nearly everything unbundled, or ala carte, claim to be the most transparent?

DOT’s top attorney calls Spirit’s ad campaign “misguided and disingenuous.”

I believe their ad campaign is not only misguided, but meant to confuse customers so they’ll flood DC with calls on behalf of the airline.

As to US House Representative Tom Graves, perhaps he paid for the cool-aid afterall, on his last Spirit Airlines flight.

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