Remember in 2011 when the Department of Transportation cracked down on airlines with new passenger rights legislation? It included consumer friendly changes such as requiring airlines to allow us to change our minds within 24 hours of booking, and penalized airlines for holding us captive on planes for more than 3-4 hours.
Another thing it did was to force airlines to provide “all-in” pricing, which means they had to include all mandatory fees and taxes in advertised ticket prices. That made it much easier to compare apples to apples when searching for fares, and reduced the likelihood of getting stuck with fare surprises, like buying what you think is a $99 fare, which ends up being $179 once you get to the “purchase now” button.
Well, the airlines could be on the verge of undoing that rule with the deceptively named “Transparent Airfares Act of 2014” that their powerful lobbyists recently introduced in the House of Representatives. They claim that having to include mandatory taxes and fees reportedly costs them over $1 billion per year. That’s malarkey. All airlines (except United) have been consistently profitable since the rule was enacted.
But airlines say that they are singled out—no other industry is required to include taxes and fees in advertised pricing like they are. (Hmm, What about gas stations? They include taxes in their price-per-gallon signage).
Thankfully, a new senate version of the bill introduced this week (The “Real Transparency in Airfares Act”) seems to make more sense and will hopefully thwart the ill-conceived effort in the house.
If you’re a frequent traveler or just a frequent airfare shopper, this is worth keeping an eye on! Do you think airlines should be able to advertise “base” fares only? Please leave your comments below.