Posts Tagged ‘airlines’

OIRA’s goal: Regulation for humans, not econs

February 18, 2010

Type “OIRA dashboard” into Google. The first hit?, a new web site that demystifies the opaque subject of rules and regulation in Washington by enabling people to track their progress throughout a review process.

The site’s launch coincides with Nudge co-author Cass Sunstein’s first public remarks since taking over the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the office in charge of reviewing, developing, and overseeing regulations across the federal government. Speaking at an American University law school conference, Sunstein emphasized that OIRA’s goal is to create regulatory policy for Humans, not Econs; “homo sapiens rather than homo economicus,” he explained.

As an example, he cited a set of recently released rules intended to discourage airlines from pulling away from the gate and sitting near a runway, essentially trapping people on planes for unknown periods of time.

The basic idea is if you’re flying domestically, and you can’t be kept on the tarmac for more than three hours, and you get food and water and medical care if you need it within two hours. That rule is accompanied by an extremely disciplined analysis of its cost and benefits. If we’re imposing financial burdens on airlines, we want to catalog them as best we can, and make sure the benefits justify the action.

You can listen to Sunstein’s remarks here.

More transparency in airline pricing

March 31, 2009

Disaggregation meets disclosure in the world of air travel:

The airlines are aware that customers shop around online and that they hate trying to figure out fees. So they are currently working with other ticket distributors on a complex system that (Rick Seaney, the chief executive of said will expand the fee checklists and allow all distributors, whether an airline itself or an online travel agency, to be more uniformly precise in just what a customer is ordering.

“They’ll present a base ticket price in three or four categories, and then you’ll have a bunch of things you can add,” Mr. Seaney said. “You’ll get a base price quote, and then you’ll have a bunch of columns with choices that add something to the ticket. You going to see a whole new slew of amenities that you pay for in advance.”

…(And airline fare pricing) committee is evaluating the universe of fee-based extra services, and drawing up lists of uniform codes to make it easier to “compare apples to apples,” Mr. Seaney said. Among the items on that growing list are the usual things like prepaid checked bag (code 0AA), snack (0AT), aisle seat exit row (0A5), beverage (0AX), video games (0AF), passenger assistance (0BY) and wheelchair (0AH).