Senator Urges Airlines to Put More Info on Web

WASHINGTON (08/23/2000) - A U.S. senator is pressuring major U.S. airlines to post more information at their Web sites about passengers' legal rights when they buy airline tickets.

Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, on Tuesday sent a letter to the chief executive officers of the major U.S. airlines urging them to post on their Web sites the "contract of carriage," which sets out the legally binding terms and conditions that apply to each ticket sold.

The current policy of almost all the major U.S. airlines is to make the contract available at ticket offices or by mail. Wyden surveyed the Web sites of Alaska Airlines Inc., American Airlines Inc., America West Airlines, Continental Airlines Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., Northwest Airlines Inc., Southwest Airlines Co., Trans World Airlines Inc., United Air Lines Inc. and US Airways Group Inc. and found that only Southwest posts the contract at its site.

If consumers are able to purchase tickets online, it only makes sense that they be able to read their legal rights on the Web, Wyden said in the letter.

Some airlines, including US Airways, post a summary of the contract of carriage at their Web sites, along with other information to assist passengers. US Airways, for example, has a "customer commitment" section at its site that provide detailed information about programs for serving passengers.

Wyden also urged the chief executive officers of American, Continental, Delta, Northwest and United, which have launched a new travel Web site called Orbitz, to give independent travel agents and other travel Web sites the opportunity to offer the same fares offered at the Orbitz site. This would alleviate concern that the airlines will offer their lowest fares only at the Orbitz site, Wyden said.

Senator Wyden can be reached in Washington at +1-202-224-5244. His Web site is http://www.senate.gov/~wyden/.

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