I wanted to share some information on a variety of important topics to keep you up to date on the latest when it comes to government and business travel.
Aviation Security Tax Hike – Bad For Business: Congress more than doubled the security tax despite strong opposition from a diverse coalition including GBTA, consumer groups, other travel interests, airlines and key Congressional leaders; letters from hundreds of GBTA members; dozens of media interviews; and extensive communications with Congressional and committee staff. Approval of the budget deal means passengers will pay a billion more annually in travel taxes. Opponents argued that TSA should trim the fat from its budget, including better resource management and procurement, and increase PreCheck enrollment to reduce staffing and equipment needs. Another tax increase adds to taxes and costs, meaning businesses send fewer travelers on the road. U.S. businesses and the economy pay the price. Budget negotiators argued that the tax had not increased since 2002 even though TSA is screening many more passengers and current passenger taxes only fund 30 percent of TSA’s budget.
Special thanks to GBTA members who sent letters asking their representatives to oppose the tax increase. You sent a clear message to Congress that business travelers are paying attention. We need to continue fighting travel tax increases and supporting policies that make business travel safe, efficient and affordable.
GBTA Fights for Faster, Secure Business Travel: GBTA executive director and COO Mike McCormick joined other industry leaders in a Washington forum hosted by Airlines for America and the Air Line Pilots Association. The forum, with keynote remarks from TSA Administrator Pistole, promoted security practices that reduce travel hassles. GBTA will continue to work with TSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to expand PreCheck and Global Entry enrollment to reduce delays for busy, low-risk business travelers. GBTA continues to urge TSA to further increase the number of PreCheck lanes at airports, with 450 lanes at 107 airports in place today.
View current/planned PreCheck locations:
Travel Taxes Hurt Economy And Jobs: Taxes on travel-related services increased by 58 percent in 2013, according to a GBTA Foundation report released last week. The annual study examines hotel lodging, car rentals and restaurant meal taxes in the top 50 U.S. destination cities – taxes regularly used to fund local projects unrelated to business travel and tourism. Mike McCormick emphasized, “Unfortunately, it’s not just state and local governments that see business travelers as their cash cow – the federal government is getting in the game. This week, Congress may consider a doubling of the TSA tax. Instead of driving TSA efficiencies that curb spending, Congress’ solution is to double the amount travelers pay. Road warriors strengthen the economy, create jobs and drive economic security. Yet governments insist on treating travelers like their ATM. These types of punitive travel taxes will ultimately push business travelers to stay home, and we all pay when governments take a short-sighted approach that raises the costs for business travel.”
GBTA Reveals Best and Worst Travel Taxes Acriss Top 50 U.S. Destinations
DOT Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection (ACACP) for Passenger Rights: GBTA participated in another meeting of the ACACP focused on recommendations to address passenger concerns, including reducing wait times in customs clearance lines, privacy rights, fare transparency, information about airline obligations and other travel topics. The airlines and the DOT are developing a glossary of travel terms to increase consistency across airline websites. DOT is improving and expediting its handling of complaints against airlines, and DOT is still considering proposals regarding the display of ancillary fees across all sales channels, including GDSs and to determine whether ticket agents, including OTAs, should be required to disclose they do not sell tickets for all airlines, if that is the case. GBTA will continue to represent member interests and work with the DOT, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and TSA to reduce travel hassles and costs, while ensuring secure travel.
GBTA Opposes Use OF Cell Phone Conversations During Flight: Although GBTA praised the FAA’s recent decision to allow greater use of some personal electronic devices during flight, GBTA opposed use of cell phones for calls during flights. “While it is important for business travelers to be connected, this presents some serious concerns. Given the close quarters of a plane, there is the potential for disruption and a loss of productivity. Occasionally, silence is golden,” said executive director and COO Mike McCormick.
Quicker Customs Clearance: With full support from GBTA, CBP is expanding Global Entry enrollment to speed up customs clearance for arriving international passengers and working with the airlines/airports at hub airports to install kiosks to expedite processing of regular passengers. CBP also enhanced its website reporting of wait times in customs clearance lines: