In September, a combination of advocacy groups banded together to launch the Mad As Hell petition in an effort to alert regulators about consumers’ dissatisfaction with the trend of charging fees for just about everything that used to be included in the price of an airline ticket. But if you ask U.S. Airways, they’ll say it’s the people that they hint may be behind the petition who are really the greedy ones.
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Tom Belden, who covers the airline industry for the paper, has called out U.S. Airways for making misleading statements about the petition in a recent employee newsletter.
In a Q&A section of the newsletter, someone asks the airline to talk about the Mad As Hell petition, to which it replies:
Some industry experts suggest the real instigators of the “Mad As Hell” website and media campaign are the Global Distribution System (GDS) providers who power the industry’s computerized reservations systems. These firms may claim they want consumers to have greater transparency, but they are ultimately motivated by the cash that will come their way if the DOT forces airlines to list their fees (for things like bags and preferred seats) with the GDS firms.
According to Belden, that’s just not true. “The three groups that sponsored this campaign — the Business Travel Coalition, the American Society of Travel Agents and the Consumer Travel Alliance — thought it up themselves,” he writes. “he GDSs referred to may eventually get some cash for displaying the fees, but that’s not who’s behind the effort, despite what some ‘industry experts,’ also known as shills, may suggest.”
He also takes issue with this statement from the newsletter regarding airlines’ adopting “a la carte” business models:
We understand that no one likes change — especially when you’re accustomed to getting something for free.
Belden correctly points out that “None of those services were ‘free’ in the past. They were included in the ticket price. Now they are separate and airlines should stop prevaricating in that way, too.”