She helped develop California's tough 1996 Seller of Travel law, which requires travel companies to register with the attorney general and prove they have consumer protection plans.
I recently asked Tanzman what she sees for travel in 2006. As always, she was outspoken. Here are excerpts from our Dec. 19 chat:
Question: What do you see happening in air travel in the next year?
Answer: Unfortunately, the airlines have yet to have a clue of how to run an airline properly. All the concern now is [that] they're looking at the bottom line either get out of bankruptcy, avoid going into bankruptcy or not going into it for a third or fourth time.
I think everything's up for grabs on what they're going to start charging you. I was on a flight where someone said we had to pay extra for a pillow . All they're doing is nickeling and diming the consumer.
Next year is going to be the experimental time to see how much can we [the airlines] charge, get away with and still maintain a relationship with the consumer.
And I think they're going to play more and more games with their mileage programs. They tell you it's 35,000 miles, let's say, to go to Hawaii, but if you want to do it on the 19th or you want to do it on the 24th of December, it could cost you 70,000 to 90,000 for the exact same ticket.
And you're going to see more and more people going a year in advance booking their seats because of worry. And they have every reason to worry about it, because during the peak season, [airlines have] cut back on those seat allotments.
They're going to try every mechanism they can to squeeze more and more out of the consumer.
Q: What do you see happening on international prices, perks and so on?
A: They're going to give us great deals in the off-season, and prices are going to go skyrocketing during in-season.
A: Because you don't have a healthy airline industry. The problem is that because everyone has cut down on capacity, they have a limited amount in which to really secure that profitable period.
I was hoping that if you would look at next summer now, that the prices would be reasonable in the $700 range [for a round-trip transatlantic fare from Los Angeles]. You're seeing prices already at $1,000, and going up.
Q: What do you see happening with domestic coach fares?
A: I believe [the price of] fuel is going to continue to be a major hindrance to being able to lower airfares . You're going to see more and more concern at making sure that the price is at a point where they're making money. So I don't think we're looking at great fares, except in soft, non-peak times.
Q: What is the outlook for Hawaii travel?