U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has appointed the four members of a new committee that will advise the Secretary on measures to protect the rights of air travelers in the United States.
The four members of the Aviation Consumer Protection Committee are Lisa Madigan, attorney general of Illinois, who will chair the committee; David Berg, senior vice president at Airlines for America (A4A), the trade association for most large U.S. airlines; Deborah Ale-Flint, director of aviation at Oakland International Airport; and Charles Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance (CTA).
“We are committed to protecting and strengthening the rights of consumers when they fly,” said LaHood. “The members of this committee will help us build on the Administration’s already strong record of protecting air travelers.”
According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), all of the committee members have demonstrated experience in both advocating for consumers and working for additional consumer protections.
Lisa Madigan was elected the first woman attorney general of Illinois in 2002 and won a third term in 2010. Under her leadership, Attorney General Madigan’s Consumer Protection Division has established a national reputation for aggressively advocating for consumer safeguards. Her office handles on average 25,000 to 30,000 consumer complaints a year on issues ranging from financial fraud to product safety.
David Berg was named senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for A4A in February 2011. He is responsible for the association’s legal affairs and has been involved in a variety of aviation issues, including passengers with disabilities and airport landing fees.
Deborah Ale-Flint was appointed director of aviation for Oakland International Airport in April 2010 and is the primary executive responsible for the operation, management and development of the airport. Her previous experience includes serving as the assistant director of aviation, responsible for the operations of the airport, and managing the airport’s $500 million capital-expenditure program.
Charles Leocha formed the CTA in 2009, following a career in journalism where he specialized in reporting on travelers’ rights. His advocacy for travelers has included meeting government officials, testifying before Congress and developing travel information and resources.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, signed by President Obama on February 14, mandates the establishment of the Aviation Consumer Protection Committee. The law required the Secretary of Transportation to appoint to the committee four members, among them one representative each of air carriers, airport operators, state or local governments, and non-profit public interest groups with expertise in consumer protection.
According to the law, the committee will terminate on September 30, 2015. The committee’s charter is available at www.fido.gov/facadatabase/docs_charters/80474_ACACP%20Charter%205-24-2012_(2012-05-24-08-42-10).pdf.
The committee will evaluate current aviation consumer-protection programs and provide recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation for improving them, as well as recommend any additional consumer protections that may be needed.
Recent aviation consumer-protection activities on the part of the DOT include a wide-ranging rule issued last year. Among its provisions, the rule required all airline advertisements to include the full price consumers would have to pay; required disclosure of all optional fees; and increased the amounts of compensation to passengers for involuntary bumping by airlines.
The DOT says it is considering additional consumer protections in upcoming rulemakings.
The time and place of the committee’s first meeting and all subsequent meetings, which will all be open to the public, will be published in the Federal Register.