Democrats ask Chao to promote airline price competition

Democrats ask Chao to promote airline price competition
© Greg Nash

Five Democratic senators wrote to Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights The Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? House committee launches investigation into Transportation Secretary Chao MORE on Friday, asking her to take steps to improve price competition among airlines. 

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenUnited Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Omar: Biden not the candidate to 'tackle a lot of the systematic challenges that we have' Seven takeaways from a busy Democratic presidential campaign weekend in Iowa MORE (Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyMarkey challenges Democratic Senate campaign opponents to climate change debate Kennedy launches primary challenge against Markey Markey fundraises ahead of Kennedy primary challenge MORE (Mass.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Energy: California, 23 other states sue Trump over vehicle emissions rule | Climate strike protests hit cities across globe | Interior watchdog expands scope of FOIA investigation | Dems accuse officials of burying climate reports Microsoft to provide free updates for voting systems running Windows 7 through 2020 Interior watchdog investigating political appointees' review of FOIA requests MORE (Ore.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein calls on Justice to push for release of Trump whistleblower report Senate Judiciary Committee requests consultation with admin on refugee admissions Trump reignites court fight with Ninth Circuit pick MORE (Calif.) asked the Department of Transportation (DOT) to reinstate a 2016 Request for Information (RFI) that was suspended in 2017.

The request would study whether airlines restrict "distribution or display of airline flight information" and whether that "constitute(s) an unfair and deceptive business practice and/or an unfair method of competition."

“The traveling public depends on third-party price comparison sites to make apples-to-apples comparisons among fares and flights and to select the best price, schedule, and airport from all available options,” they wrote in their letter

“Unfortunately, some airlines appear to be taking steps to restrict consumer access to fare and schedule information on such sites. We strongly urge the Department of Transportation to lift the RFI suspension and continue exploring industry practices on distribution and display of airline fare, schedule, and availability information," the senators added. "We also urge the DOT to use its existing statutory authority to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive practices, or unfair methods of competition upon conclusion of this proceeding.”

The letter was sent the Friday before Labor Day weekend, when many Americans travel. 

The Hill has reached out to the Transportation Department for comment.