by Michael J. Shapiro | August 20, 2014
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the senior Democratic senator from West Virginia and the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, has opened an inquiry into airline passenger fees and data privacy policies. Rockefeller is seeking information from the top 10 revenue-generating U.S. passenger airlines about the transparency of the fees they are charging to consumers, and what they are doing to protect personal passenger information. The inquiry comes after the House of Representatives passed uncontested the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, which would undo legislation that requires the airlines to prominently display the total ticket price, including taxes and fees, during fare searches. Rockefeller's inquiry is based on consumer-advocate concerns about the new legislation, as well as his ongoing efforts to raise awareness about data privacy; earlier this year, the senator introduced the Data Security and Breach Notification Act, in an effort to provide a federal standard to which companies must adhere in protecting consumer information. Sen. Rockefeller has published the list of questions posed to the airlines on the committee's website and asked that airline executives respond to the inquiry by Sept. 5.