Senate: Airlines Need More Fee Transparency

by Michael

Airlines made more than $38 Billion from extra, ancillary fees in 2014, which was a 20% increase over the previous year. $38 Billion! That prompted a meme which has been all over the internet for the last few months: “If a 747 can carry the space shuttle, then I call B.S. on overweight luggage fees.”

Well now the Senate has become involved, and the Commerce Committee staff put out a report last week recommending more transparency in airline operations, pricing, and especially the ancillary fees. There are four main subjects that the report discusses: 1) Ancillary fees are a basic component of major airline business models; 2) Ancillary fees have increased in amount and variety during the past six years; 3) Change and cancellation fees are not transparent and are excessive; and 4) Seating charts mislead consumers into believing that they need to pay for reservations.

Ultimately, the Commerce Committee staff’s report recommends the following:

1. Ancillary fees should be disclosed as early as possible in the booking process in a standardized format;
2. Checked baggage and carry-on baggage fees should have a clear connection to the costs incurred by the airline;
3. Airlines should promptly refund fees for any checked bags that are delayed more than 6 hours on a domestic flight;
4. Airline change fees should be limited to a reasonable amount tied to lead time prior to departure and a maximum percentage of the original fair paid;
5. Airlines should provide clear disclosures that “preferred seat” charges are optional. Airline and travel websites should have a clear and conspicuous link to the Department of Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection website; and
6. The Department of Transportation should update its aviation consumer protection website to improve the consumer experience

Do you think the Senate’s 6 recommended changes will help transparency and end the extra-fee ripoffs?

Consumer Traveler’s original article can be found here, and the full report can be found here.

Michael Prodanovich is a contributor to Point Me to the Plane, and author of The Ultimate Guide to Free Travel.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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