Biden Administration Wants to Scrap Airline and Hotel Junk Fees

Hotel guests paid billions in hotel fees and surcharges back in 2018

Resorts along the beach in Waikiki
Hopefully resort vacations will become more affordable in the future.

On Wednesday, President Biden announced his administration’s intent to crack down on hotel junk fees — like all other hidden charges across the travel industry — in a crusade for consumer protection, transparency and fairness. According to a new report from Skift, the president singled out companies whose business models rely on “frustrating charges” that aren’t disclosed to the consumer, saying that “so-called junk fees that drain American travelers’ pockets need to end.” Specifically, he’s referring to junk fees relating to certain flights, hotels and resorts, as well as ticket charges.

As Selene Brophy points out, resort fees are sometimes as high as $50 a night but aren’t charged until checkout. Consequently, more than one-third of hotel guests have wound up paying them, which apparently amounted to billions in collected fees in 2018. 

And forget hidden airline fees. After seat selection fees, baggage fees, and fees relating to changes and cancellations, consumers often wind up paying twice as much as the airfare originally advertised to them. It’s why Biden has also called on Congress to ban airline fees for families, which would allow children 13 years or younger to sit with their parents without needing to pay extra.

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“Parents should not find themselves unexpectedly seated away from their young child on a flight, and paying a large fee to sit together is wrong,” the administration noted.

Back in September, the U.S. Transportation Department initially proposed a rule that would require airlines to disclose fees for baggage and ticket changes, as well as family seating, the first time airfare is displayed. Around that same time, it also launched the new Aviation Consumer Protection Dashboard, which was created “to ensure the traveling public has easy access to information about services that U.S. airlines provide to mitigate passenger inconveniences when the cause of a cancellation or delay was due to circumstances within the airline’s control,” according to the site.

Of course, many operators believe the aforementioned fees are already spelled out quite plainly, so how and when this will all come to fruition is another story. But, in the meantime, I think we can allow ourselves to feel cautiously optimistic surrounding what appears to be a new era of air travel-related consumer protections. 

Now do Airbnb cleaning fees.


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