Department of Transportation is proposing a rule to require airlines and travel search
sites to disclose certain fees beyond the base fare up front.
The proposal is intended to add transparency to
the process of searching for and booking travel and would affect U.S. air carriers, foreign air carriers and third parties such as online travel agencies and metasearch sites that display fares for flights to, from and within the United States.
“Airline passengers deserve to know the full, true cost of
their flights before they buy a ticket,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary
“This new proposed rule would require airlines to be
transparent with customers about the fees they charge, which will help
travelers make informed decisions and save money.”
The Travel Technology Association, representing brands
including Expedia, Kayak, Skyscanner, Booking.com, Skyscanner, Travelport and
Amadeus, says it supports the proposed requirements.
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“Consumers, specifically ones that travel only once or twice
a year, often are not aware of what products and services are included with
their airline tickets. Airline models differ from airline to airline where some
do not charge extra for bags or seats while others do, and prices can range
significantly,” says Stewart Alvarez, interim
president and CEO of the association.
“Additionally, seats can be available at the time the airline
ticket is purchased by the consumer and a few days or weeks later may not be,
making it difficult for a family traveling to sit together.”
rules would require that upfront, the first time an airfare is displayed, any
fees for a traveler to sit with their child, for changing or cancelling a
flight and for checked or carry-on baggage must also be shown. The fees would
be required to be displayed as passenger-specific or itinerary-specific based
on the consumer’s choice.
The department is also proposing that airlines be required to enable consumers
traveling with a young child to purchase seats with the fare at all points of
sale. And it requires airlines provide “useable, current and accurate information
regarding baggage fees,
change fees, cancellation fees and adjacent seating fees for families
traveling with young children, if any, to ticket agents that sell or display
the carrier’s fare and schedule information.”
In Monday’s White House press briefing, the White House press secretary, Karine
Jean-Pierre, says the proposal is intended to “spur competition among airlines, expose
and limit airline fees and most importantly save money for American families.”
the first two quarters of this year, according to the U.S. Bureau of
Transportation Statistics, U.S. airlines collected more than $3.2 billion in
baggage fees. The government also says airlines made nearly $700 million from
cancellation and change fees in 2021.
proposal is the latest action in a series of protections for travelers the
Department of Transportation has announced recently, in response to President
Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.
this month the department unveiled a new
airline customer service dashboard to help travelers understand their rights
when flights are cancelled or delayed. The department is also proposing to
require more clarity on when a traveler is due a refund and to require non-expiring
credits when people choose not to travel due to having COVID or another
Biden announced the proposed rule Monday at a meeting of the White House
Competition Council, which was established last year.
The public will have 60 days to comment on this proposal
before it can be finalized, but it is unclear how long it may take to put the
rules in place.
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