U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the appointment of the four members of a new committee that will advise the Secretary on measures to protect the rights of air travelers.
The committee members are Lisa Madigan, Illinois attorney general, who will chair the committee; David A. Berg, senior vice president at Airlines for America (A4A); 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," Secretary LaHood said. "The members of this committee will help us build on the Administration's already strong record of protecting air travelers."
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 25,000-30,000 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 Oakland International Airport's director of aviation 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 airports $500 million capital 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 Feb. 14, mandates the establishment of this committee. The law requires the Secretary of Transportation to appoint to the committee four members with one representative each of air carriers, airport operators, state or local governments, and nonprofit public interest groups with expertise in consumer protection. According to the law, the committee will terminate on Sept. 30, 2015. The committee's charter is available at https://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 for improving them, as well as recommend any additional consumer protections that may be needed.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's recent aviation consumer protection activities include a wide-ranging rule issued last year that, among other things, required all airline advertisements to include the full price consumers would have to pay, required disclosure of all optional fees, and increased compensation for involuntary bumping.
The Department is considering additional consumer protections in upcoming rulemakings.
The time and place of the first meeting and all subsequent meetings, which will be open to the public, will be published in the Federal Register.