government seeks greater disclosure of airline fees
Send a link to a friend
[May 22, 2014]
By Karen Jacobs
(Reuters) - U.S. airlines
should disclose fees for checked baggage, carry-on items
and other services to make it easier for travelers to
discern the true cost of a ticket, the federal
government said on Wednesday.
The proposed Transportation Department disclosure rules, which build
on regulations from 2009 and 2011, would stipulate that online
flight search sites like Expedia Inc, Google Inc and Kayak provide
Carriers would have to spell out specific charges for carry-on items
and advance seat assignments.
Airlines for America, a Washington-based lobby for U.S. airlines,
said the proposed rules could raise airline costs and result in
higher airfares or reduced service.
"We believe this proposal overreaches and limits how free markets
work and will have negative consequences," Airlines for America
spokeswoman Jean Medina said in a statement.
A Southwest Airlines spokesman said the carrier has not had enough
time to review the proposals. American Airlines and United
Continental deferred to Airlines for America for comment.
The proposed consumer protections come as the airline industry
supports legislation that would roll back rules requiring greater
disclosure of fees and taxes for airfares.
The Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 would allow airlines to play up
base fares in advertising, but disclose taxes and fees separately.
The measure is backed by Airlines for America. A counter measure to
keep current rules in place was recently introduced by Democratic
Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey.
The DOT said it expects to issue a final rule on the latest
proposals next year.
The move is "a direct pushback to what A4A (Airlines for America) is
trying to do, which is to really make things more opaque," said
Robert Mann, an airline consultant in Port Washington, New York.
"That's the way airlines used to advertise and the DOT banned it
long ago," Mann said.
[to top of second column]
In recent years, airlines have implemented extra charges for items
once included in the ticket price. More airlines have added these
so-called ancillary fees, with low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines
last month disclosing it planned new charges for carry-on bags and
The Transportation Department said charges for additional air-travel
services were difficult for buyers to determine up front.
The proposal would also require airlines and agents to disclose on
website itinerary displays whether flights sold are operated with
other carriers. Big travel agents would have to respond quickly to
consumer complaints and offer the option of holding reservations at
quoted fares without payment for 24 hours if made a week or more
The agency is also looking to expand the number of carriers
reporting on-time performance and mishandled baggage rates to
airlines that account for at least 0.5 percent of U.S. scheduled
passenger revenue from 1 percent. The DOT said that change would
affect carriers like discounter Spirit Airlines.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; editing by G Crosse, Paul
Simao and Diane Craft)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.