Biden administration to propose new rules for airline fees requiring more transparency

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Travelers at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in the Queens borough of New York, US, on Friday, July 2, 2022. As travel is ramping up for the July 4th holiday, staffing shortages are causing problems for some of the nations largest airlines.
Angus Mordant | Bloomberg | Getty Images

President Joe Biden plans to announce new rules on Monday that would require airlines and online travel agencies to disclose fees for seat selection, checked baggage and other add-ons along with fares, the administration’s latest effort to bolster passenger protections after a rocky summer travel season.

Airlines charge travelers for a number of additional perks, which used to come with the cost of a ticket, including a fee for advanced selection for many seats on board, even those without extra legroom.

“Airline passengers deserve to know the full, true cost of their flights before they buy a ticket,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a news 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.”

Airlines for America, which represents major U.S. carriers, said airlines are already transparent about ticket fees.

“A4A member passenger airlines – which are fierce competitors—already offer transparency to consumers from first search to touchdown,” the group said in a statement. “U.S. airlines are committed to providing the highest quality of service, which includes clarity regarding prices, fees and ticket terms.”

Carriers and online travel agencies have updated their websites in recent years to highlight the details of basic economy tickets, airlines’ most restrictive but cheaper fares. Airline executives have said they want passengers to eschew those tickets in favor of more flexible standard economy fares.

The Biden administration’s proposal comes less than two months after the Transportation Department sought stricter standards for when airlines have to refund travelers for delays.

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