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Washington is filled with cronyism and backdoor deals, but it was refreshing to see that ASTA go another seat at the table and will help with the regulatory process.Last week, the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) was told that a member would be added to the Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (ACPAC) Modernization Act (H.R. 3780) in the U.S. House of Representatives by a nonpartisan group that includes Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV), Gus Bilirakis (RFL), John Garamendi (D-CA), Marc Molinaro (R-NY) and Julia Brownley (D-CA). The bill would expand the ACPAC’s membership by adding a dedicated travel agency seat on this key advisory body within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). It’s a smart move. It’s good to have somebody with aviation experience and a voice of reason on the committee. “We commend Congresswoman Titus and her colleagues for recognizing that adding a travel agency representative to this key committee will enhance the work and effectiveness of the ACPAC,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA’s President and CEO in a statement. “Advocating for airline consumers is what travel advisors do every day and roughly half of all airline tickets in the U.S. are sold through the agency channel. Giving these small business owners, 70 percent of whom are women, an elevated voice in the DOT regulatory process will help the Department meet its consumer protection mission.” Like Kerby said, travel advisors are on the front lines every day. Nobody knows the ins and outs of the business as they do. While it might be easier, cheaper and more convenient to book a trip online yourself, I can’t imagine not using a travel advisor. At the very least, there’s something to be said for safety and security if something goes wrong. As constructed currently, the committee includes members from the airlines. As it should. This is an advisory committee. It doesn’t make the final decision. But it’s good to know that the recommendation of a travel advisor is at least part of the final decision. Think about it. Would you want a doctor or lawyer or somebody without aviation experience or knowledge to help decide on ticket refunds and airline ancillary fees? Well, ASTA has been an active participant in the committee’s work since its inception in 2012. Maybe the final result isn’t always what we want, but at least the consumer has a representative looking out for them. “Giving travel advisors a seat at the ACPAC table will bring to the committee valuable insights that are missing today, especially in terms of the real-world impacts of complex proposals pending before DOT,” said Eben Peck, ASTA’s Executive Vice President, Advocacy. “We are grateful to Congresswoman Titus for taking up this fight on behalf of the more than 2,200 travel advisors in Nevada and throughout the broader industry, and will do everything in our power to see H.R. 3780 through to enactment.” Exactly. It’s good to know that somebody who has the insight of a travel advisor will be on the committee. Like I said, I don’t take my car to my hairdresser every time I hear a knock, and I don’t ask my mechanic to cut my hair.
Rich Thomaselli has written for TravelPulse since 2014 and has been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. His work has...
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