American Society of Travel Advisors Responds to GAO Ancillary Report, Encourages Department of Transportation to Step-Up Consumer Protection MeasuresPress Releases - News - ASTA

September 26, 2017

Contact: Erika Richter

American Society of Travel Advisors Responds to GAO Ancillary Report, Encourages Department of Transportation to Step-Up Consumer Protection Measures

Society Releases Additional Data on Consumer Sentiment Toward Airline Fees

Alexandria, Va., September 26, 2017 - The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), the leading organization representing travel agents and agents in the U.S., today weighed in on the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) recent report on airline ancillary fees and released additional findings related to consumer sentiment on airline fees from its wide-ranging 2017 consumer research report “How America Travels.”

“Airlines have reaped billions in ancillary fee revenue – $7.1 billion in bag and change fees alone in 2016,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA’s President & CEO. “We believe in the free market and in the airlines’ prerogative to price their services. But we also believe consumers deserve choices and transparency in this unregulated market. Travel agents are consumer advocates for their clients we’re asking the government to do the same by taking action on behalf of U.S. travelers to ensure ancillary fee transparency.”

Relevant data from ASTA’s research, published earlier this year, indicates that 79 percent of travelers support requiring airlines to disclose all fees up front; that 75 percent of Americans believe the government should prohibit airlines from charging for carry-on bags; and 66 percent support the prohibition of checked-bag fees altogether. Further, according to the ASTA study Americans are seven times more likely to say the government favors airlines over passengers, with general consensus across genders, generations and income levels.

“We believe strongly that withholding important information from consumers who engage the services of a professional travel agent harms the traveling public,” said Kerby. “Consumers who purchase their air travel through travel agents should be as informed and empowered as those who buy directly from airlines, so we call on Washington regulators to make sure these travelers can see, compare and buy these fees through their agent.”

About How America Travels:
On ASTA’s behalf, PSB, a global market research and opinion polling firm, conducted a scientific quantitative study of 1,522 Americans ages 25-70 to gauge perceptions regarding a wide range of travel topics. PSB conducted the survey online, and the respondent sample is proportional by race, gender and generation to U.S. Census demographics. Additionally, PSB conducted six focus groups of American travelers to understand their travel perceptions and priorities. The groups took place in Charlotte, Denver and Philadelphia, and were divided into two age groups, 25-35 and 36-45. We are grateful to Carnival Corporation and the ASTA Chapter Presidents Council, who provided financial support for the study.

Rebranded in 2018 as the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally-based members, ASTA’s history of industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information about the Society, visit Consumers can connect with an ASTA travel advisor at

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