Biden to propose new rule requiring airlines to disclose extra fees upfront

Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden on Monday is expected to announce a new proposed rule that would allow fliers to see the total cost of an airline ticket, including extra fees, before they click on “purchase.”

Under the proposed rule, airlines and travel search websites would have to disclose fees upfront — the first time the airfare is displayed — charges associated with baggage, sitting with your child, and changing or cancelling your flight.

The announcement is part of a larger effort from the White House to help lower prices for consumers as record high inflation continues. It also comes with midterm elections approaching.

“Airline passengers deserve to know the full, true cost of their flights before they buy a ticket,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a release. “This new proposed rule would require airlines to be transparent with customers about the fees they charge, which will help travelers make informed decisions and save money.”

Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, believes giving clearer disclosure of these fees upfront will be a “major win for travelers” by making it “far easier” to compare the full cost of different flight options.

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He explained that some airlines now make more money on fees than fares, partly due to the fact that fees are exempt from the 7.5% federal excise tax on airfare.

Airlines for America (A4A), which represents major U.S. passenger airlines, responded to the rule arguing that airlines already “offer transparency to consumers from first search to touchdown.”

“U.S. airlines are committed to providing the highest quality of service, which includes clarity regarding prices, fees and ticket terms,” the group said in a statement. “A4A passenger carriers provide details regarding the breakdown of airfares on their websites, providing consumers clarity regarding the total cost of a ticket. This includes transparency regarding taxes and government fees on airline tickets, which account for more than 20 percent of many domestic one-stop, roundtrip tickets.”

The public has 60 days to comment on the proposal before it can be finalized.

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