A United Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane passes a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 while taking off from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as seen from El Segundo, California, on September 11, 2023.Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Roger Marshall, R-Kan., asked the Department of Transportation and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help “protect consumers against unfair and deceptive practices in airlines’ frequent flyer and loyalty programs.
“While these programs may have originated to incentivize and reward true ‘frequent flyers,’ they have evolved to include co-branded credit cards and now often significantly or exclusively focus on dollars spent using these co-branded credit cards,” Durbin and Marshall wrote in the letter they sent to the agencies.The letter cited reports that “airlines are engaged in unfair, abusive, and deceptive practices with respect to these loyalty programs.
Durbin and Marshall’s letter said the airlines can make changes to their loyalty programs without notifying the consumer; that there’s a disparity between the value of points at purchase and at redemption; and that the charge for transferring points is so steep that consumers ultimately lose the value of the points in the transaction. headtopics.com
Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, speaks during a news conference following the weekly Democratic caucus luncheon at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, Sept. 6, 2023.An industry analyst predicted that the airlines will push back on the lawmakers’ letter.
“I expect the airlines are going to fight this aggressively and paint a picture of doom,” Henry Harteveldt said. “There’s going to be some drama around this, that’s for sure.” “Airlines have been changing the value of their loyalty program credits for decades,” Harteveldt said. “This is not new. And airlines have constantly been changing the benefits people receive and don’t receive.”The senators on Monday also asked how the DOT and CFPB are planning to address the airlines’ practices and if they have the regulatory authority needed to protect consumers. headtopics.com