Franken concerned new airline pricing policy is costing MN consumers


Fresh from a successful fight against the Comcast merger with Time Warner, Sen. Al Franken is turning his attentions to a "personalized pricing" airfare policy he says could be discriminatory.

The U.S Senator has joined with several of his colleagues to question the Department of Transportation on a new policy, approved last year, which allows one customer to be charged more than another based upon a series of personal information.

While airlines are not able to use "Resolution 787" to offer higher or lower fares based on race, creed, color, sex, religious or political affiliation, disability, or national origin – as the Star Tribune reports – Franken says it does not stop them from using other sensitive personal information that could end up hitting certain consumers in the pocket.

Airlines for example could use zip code information to offer special fares to those living in richer parts of Minnesota, in a bid to encourage them to travel more frequently, while not offering the same price cuts to those in poorer areas, a press release from Franken's office said.

Business travelers meanwhile could be charged more because they fly more frequently.

"I'm concerned that this practice, which the airlines proposed and the Department of Transportation approved, may be anti-consumer, discriminatory, and harmful to Minnesotans who are already struggling to afford the high cost of travel," he said. "In addition, this policy raises some serious questions about the privacy of people's data."

Franken and several other senators have sent a series of questions to transportation officials seeking clarity on the resolution on several issues, among them what the department will do to ensure customers who shop anonymously do not get penalized by the policy.

It is the latest stance taken by Franken against policies he feels are anti-consumer, having firmly opposed the Comcast merger with Time Warner that he said would have reduced choice and increased prices for customers.

He also took ride-sharing service Uber to task over the way it uses the personal information it gathers from customers, as reported by TechCrunch.

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