"Consumers have a right to know what they're paying for," Menendez said to me last week. "Travelers already pay enough without being hit with hidden fees."
But the House leadership is sending mixed signals about passenger protections. Although Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) said that the FAA bill is a "top priority," he has also called for leaner, more streamlined legislation that "does more with less" - which suggests that some unnecessary amendments may be dropped before the bill is passed. Those may - or may not - include important airfare transparency provisions.
Seems to me that some difficult decisions lie ahead. Should the government, which promised to protect airline passengers last year, do the expedient thing - or the right thing?
A Southwest Airlines pilot faced a similar choice earlier this year, when he learned that a passenger on his flight from Los Angeles to Denver was running late.
Mark Dickinson of Sierra Vista, Ariz., was flying to Colorado to say goodbye to his 2-year-old grandson. Southwest, as it happens, has one of the worst on-time records in the industry; in November, the Transportation Department considered only 79 percent of its flights on time. So the pressure for a punctual departure must have been enormous.
But Dickinson's circumstances were extraordinary and tragic: His grandson was on life support after having suffered a head injury when his mother's boyfriend allegedly threw him across the room. This was Dickinson's last chance to see the child before life support was removed.
It would have been easy for Southwest to fly without Dickinson. But the pilot held the plane for 12 long minutes. "They can't go anywhere without me, and I wasn't going anywhere without you," he told Dickinson.
That wasn't the expedient thing to do, but it was the right thing to do.
Will the government and our elected officials have the courage to do the right thing, too?
Elliott is National Geographic Traveler magazine's reader advocate. E-mail him at email@example.com.