Last week, we reported that with the price of oil hitting new lows, some international airlines — mainly foreign carriers across the Pacific — were finally reducing or eliminating fuel surcharges on passenger tickets. But that item also cited a BBC report that some big European carriers were now assessing unexplained fees called “carrier-imposed surcharges” or “international surcharges.”
According to a new Bloomberg News report, U.S. carriers are using the same trick on international flights.
The report notes that U.S. airlines were required by a 2012 Transportation Department rule to demonstrate that their fuel surcharges were in fact related to the cost of fuel. Since that got to be more and more difficult as the price dropped, they turned instead to “carrier-imposed fees” on international tickets that are defined vaguely — or not at all.
And those fees can be substantial. Bloomberg cited the following breakdown of costs and fees from an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to London:
Note that the “carrier imposed fee” is significantly more than the base fare. (The breakdown also serves as a reminder that the U.K. imposes some of the highest airline passenger taxes in the world.)
Bloomberg notes that airline ticketing software uses the code “YR” for such charges, a designation that can include fuel, insurance, or just about anything else the airline wants to cram in there.
In addition, when large companies negotiate special rates for volume purchases, the percentage-off discounts only apply to the “base fare” and not the surcharges.
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