The U.S. Department of Transportation proposed a rule that would require airlines to disclose fees for basic services that aren’t included in the price of a ticket and how much extra they will cost.
The Transportation Department proposed Wednesday that passengers be provided detailed information on fees for a first checked bag, a second checked bag, advance seat assignments and carry-on bags.
The rules would apply whether passengers bought tickets on the phone, in person or online — and not just from airline websites. Airlines that want their tickets to remain available through travel agents and online ticketing services would have to provide them information on fees for basic services, too, something most have been reluctant to do.
The proposal aims to prevent consumers from being lured by low advertised airfares, only to be surprised later by high fees for services once considered to be basic and inclusive of the paid fare. Currently, airlines are only required to disclose bag fees, and even then they don’t have to provide an exact price.
For example, Spirit Airlines sometimes advertises one-way fares for as low as $20, however, they fail to tell you about the other fees that they add-on for bags, fuel, seating, reservation booking and etc.
Under the new DOT proposal, fees would have to be specific to the advertised airfare. Any frequent-flier privileges would also have to be factored into the price if the airfare is advertised on an airline website and the passenger supplies identifying information. The proposal would prohibit “unfair and deceptive” practices by airfare search tools, such as ranking flights by some airlines ahead of others without disclosing that bias to consumers.
The rule doesn’t cover fees for early boarding, upgrades, curbside check-in and other services which are not deemed basic.