New Rule to Show True Cost of Plane Tickets
(AP) - President Joe Biden announced a new initiative Monday that would eventually allow consumers to see a more complete price on airline tickets — including baggage and change fees — before they buy, as the White House continues to search for ways to lower costs for Americans amid persistently high inflation.
The White House says the proposed rule from the Transportation Department will prevent airlines from hiding the “true cost” of airline tickets, which would help consumers save money up front and encourage more competition among airlines to offer better fares. The requirement will apply not only to airlines directly but also to third-party search sites such as Kayak and Expedia.
“You should know the full cost of your ticket right when you’re comparison shopping,” Biden said Monday, citing fees charged by airlines to check luggage or to seat families together. The new rule, the president said, will help consumers “pick the ticket that actually is the best deal for you.”
Airlines made nearly $5.3 billion in baggage fees and nearly $700 million on cancellation and change fees last year, according to Transportation Department figures. Airlines charge a variety of other fees for extra legroom and other perks that are not tracked by the government.
A trade group for the largest U.S. airlines said carriers already disclose terms and the total cost of a ticket. “This includes transparency regarding taxes and government fees on airline tickets, which account for more than 20% of many domestic one-stop, roundtrip tickets,” said Katherine Estep, a spokeswoman for Airlines for America.
The proposed rule seeks to target a typical situation faced by consumers where a ticket price is listed on an airline or search website, but with information often listed elsewhere about any additional airline fees, such as for checking or carrying on a bag, getting a guaranteed seat next to your child or changing or canceling a flight — fees that vary widely by airline and could quickly tack on up to hundreds of dollars more to a price of a ticket after the initial purchase. Under the proposal, that information would be made available upfront when the quoted airfare is first displayed.