L. Pinkerton, senior vice president for legislative and regulatory
policy at Airlines
for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S.
airlines, today testified before the Senate Commerce Committee,
demonstrating that carriers are listening to the traveling public and
taking action to improve the travel experience for every passenger who
takes to the skies.
In her testimony,
Pinkerton addressed the recent unacceptable failures in customer
service, and how the U.S. airline industry is ready to deliver on its
responsibility to implement meaningful solutions to ensure such
incidents never happen again. Carriers take their commitment to customer
service seriously and have proactively implemented systemic reforms –
ranging from changing overbooking policies to enabling front line
employees more discretion in managing specific situations – to improve
customer service. In addition to the reforms already implemented, each
carrier continues to review a wide array of customer service polices,
and efforts are underway to provide passengers more transparency and
understanding about their rights as consumers.
“U.S. airlines are focused and committed to treating every passenger
with the respect and dignity they deserve,” said Pinkerton. “Airlines
recognize that the onus is on us to foster a customer-centric
environment. We commit to our passengers – and the members of this
committee – that U.S. airlines will continue to work and invest in our
ultimate industry goal of providing a safe, efficient and enjoyable
travel experience each and every day.”
Seven examples of concrete steps being taken by A4A member airlines to
improve customer service include:
- Completely eliminating or reducing overbooking;
Prohibiting use of law enforcement to remove passengers from a flight,
except in cases of safety or security;
Ensuring that no passenger is involuntarily removed from a flight for
Ensuring that crews traveling must be booked at least 60 minutes prior
Giving gate agents the discretion to offer higher amounts of money as
an incentive for customers to voluntarily take a different flight;
Airlines are renewing their focus on training for all customer-facing
staff to make sure they are taking care of passengers, not just
getting them from point to point; and
Efforts are underway to provide passengers more transparency and
understanding about what their rights are as consumers.
In addition, Pinkerton noted that carriers have made progress,
establishing a solid foundation to further build on without government
interference. The American
Customer Satisfaction Index Travel Report recently validated some
key metrics that demonstrate improvements in the flying experience:
better online web booking, improved check-in process, timely text alerts
informing passengers and innovative baggage handling technology.
Consumers and communities across America have seen enormous benefits
from a thriving and competitive aviation marketplace:
According the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS):
The fourth-quarter 2016 average air fare was down 26.5 percent
from the average fare in 2000, the highest inflation-adjusted
fourth quarter average fare recorded in the 21 years since BTS
began collecting air fare records in 1995;
- Since 1995, inflation-adjusted fares declined 23.4 percent.
- The fourth-quarter 2016 average air fare was down 26.5 percent
U.S. Airports of all sizes have realized air service gains over the
past two years with 176 Small- and Non-Hub markets seeing available
seat numbers grow;
Airlines added 198 new U.S.-based routes in 2016 and have added 151
more in 2017. Over two years, flyers have seen a net expansion of 54
nonstop routes to/from U.S. airports.
Annually, commercial aviation helps drive $1.5 trillion in U.S. economic
activity and more than 10 million U.S. jobs. Airlines for America (A4A)
vigorously advocates on behalf of the American airline industry as a
model of safety, customer service and environmental responsibility and
as the indispensable network that drives our nation’s economy and global
America needs a cohesive National Airline Policy that will support the
integral role the nation’s airlines play in connecting people and goods
globally, spur the nation’s economic growth and create more high-paying
jobs. A4A works collaboratively with the airlines, labor groups,
Congress and the Administration to improve air travel for everyone.
For more information about the airline industry, visit our website airlines.org and
our blog, A Better Flight Plan, at airlines.org/blog.
us on Twitter: @airlinesdotorg.
us on Facebook: facebook.com/AirlinesforAmerica.
us on Instagram: instagram.com/AirlinesforAmerica.
Airlines for America (A4A)
Kathy Grannis Allen
Director, Airline Industry Public Relations and Communications
Managing Director, Government and Regulatory Communications
Vice President, Communications
Senior Vice President, Communications