Travel Groups: Airlines Should Disclose Baggage Fees Upfront

The Global Business Travel Association, along with other travel groups, filed comments this week with the U.S. Department of Transportation supporting the agency’s proposed rules to require greater fee transparency in the airline industry.

Travelers should know exactly how much they will have to spend on an airline flight before purchasing a ticket, according to the Global Business Travel Association

This week the association called on the U.S. Department of Transportation to take quick action on rules it proposed in May that would require airlines to be more transparent about ancillary fees for things such as checked bags, carry-on bags, and advance seat assignments.

As it is now, these fees are often difficult to identify when searching for airfares, making it harder to calculate the true cost of travel before buying a ticket, the DOT stated in a May briefing report.

“The lack of consistency and transparency in the pricing and application of ancillary fees in all categories of travel, but especially for air travel, is a major challenge for business travel managers,” GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick said in a statement.

With greater consolidation of the industry, airlines have been unbundling services that traditionally were included in airline tickets, and fees for these now additional services have become an increasing source of revenue, according to GBTA. For example, between 2007 and 2013, revenue from baggage fees rose from $464 million to $3.35 billion, and revenue from reservation change fees rose from $915 million to $2.8 billion.

“Ever since American Airlines became the first major airline to charge for checked baggage, the industry has been ‘fee happy,’ charging fees for everything from baggage and seat reservations to pillows and blankets, printing boarding passes, and even to check in, for heaven’s sake,” said Charlie Leocha, chairman of Travelers United, which also filed comments this week, according to The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, legislation addressing pricing transparency in the airline industry is making its way through both the House and Senate. In the Senate, the “Real Transparency in Airfares Act” would maintain current DOT regulations requiring airlines and travel sites to include taxes and fees in the full airfare price and would increase penalties for violations. The House bill would reverse those regulations; proponents say the change would make increases in taxes and other government fees more apparent to consumers.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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