Could This Finally Be the End of Hidden Airline Fees?

A new era of consumer protection appears to be upon us

Over the shoulder view of young woman shopping online for flight tickets on airline website with laptop, entering credit card details to make mobile payment at home

Have you ever tried to purchase airfare based solely on what you thought you would be paying, only to find out it wasn’t even close to the final amount? Yeah, same.

That’s due almost entirely to the amount of fees tacked onto the back half of the buying process. We’re talking seat selection fees, baggage fees, fees relating to changes and cancellations, you name it. By time you’re ready to checkout, you’ve likely accrued an extra couple hundred of dollars in charges that often — if you’re anything like me — leave you second guessing the trip altogether.

Luckily, the Biden administration is seeking to change that in the form of a new rule that would require all airlines — U.S. and foreign — to disclose all fees upfront. In short, it would abolish what the administration refers to as “surprise fees.”

“Airline passengers deserve to know the full, true cost of their flights before they buy a ticket,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement announcing the proposed regulation. “This new proposed rule would require airlines to be transparent with customers about the fees they charge.”

Set to be discussed on Monday, the legislation would see all fees — baggage, seats, changes, cancellations, etc. — made available “the first time an airfare is displayed,” as opposed to at the end. Per The Points Guy, there may be more to come by way of regulations as as administration officials have reportedly become increasingly outspoken, including on the topic of families being able to sit together on flights.

This comes off the heels of the launch of the DOT’s new Aviation Consumer Protection Dashboard earlier this month, 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 new site.

Of course, many airlines believe the aforementioned fees are already spelled out quite plainly so how/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. Au revoir, hidden fees! You won’t be missed.


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