Air Travel:

Effectiveness of State Consumer Protection Efforts Varies

RCED-90-136: Published: Aug 29, 1990. Publicly Released: Oct 2, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on states' efforts to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive trade practices in the travel industry.

GAO found that: (1) financially distressed tour operators provided some consumers with services that were less complete than or inferior to what the consumer was promised; (2) consumers lost millions of dollars to fraudulent sales of travel services; (3) airline advertising practices sometimes violate state laws against unfair and deceptive trade practices; (4) passenger rights are not always well-specified; (5) despite some success in providing travel consumer protection, the states' efforts have been less effective because the operators typically operate by mail or telephone across state lines; (6) three of the four states GAO studied have specific travel-related laws, which are primarily enforced by state attorneys general, to protect consumers; and (7) two of the states also created special offices responsible for some consumer protection functions.

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