Airline tickets and the cost of travel have been described as a major problem for Americans, facing rising inflation. Photo/Ross D. Franklin, AP
President Joe Biden will announce a new initiative on Monday that would eventually allow consumers to see a fuller price on airline tickets – including baggage and change fees – before buying, as the White House continues to look for ways to reduce costs for Americans in a persistent context. high inflation.
The White House says the rule proposed by the Department of Transportation will prevent airlines from hiding the “true cost” of airfare, which would help consumers save money up front and encourage greater competition between airlines to offer better fares. The requirement will apply not only to airlines directly, but also to third-party search sites such as Kayak and Expedia.
Airlines earned nearly $9.4 billion in baggage fees and nearly $1,200 million in cancellation and change fees last year, according to figures from the Department of Transportation. Airlines charge a variety of other fees for extra legroom and other benefits that are not tracked by the government.
A trade group for the largest US airlines said carriers already disclose the terms and total cost of a ticket. “This includes transparency around taxes and government fees on airline tickets, which make up more than 20% of many domestic round-trip tickets,” said Katherine Estep, spokesperson for Airlines for America.
The proposal dates back to the Obama administration and was scrapped in 2017 by then-President Donald Trump after airlines complained it was unnecessary and would incur significant costs. It must now go through a 60-day comment period before final approval.
The proposed rule comes as tension mounts between the Biden administration and airlines, with each blaming the other for an increase in canceled and delayed flights this summer.
The Department of Transportation has also started releasing information to help consumers know what each airline offers when flights are canceled or delayed for reasons beyond the airline’s control. This prompted several airlines to update their policies regarding finding a new flight and covering hotel and meal costs for stranded travellers.
Biden was expected to make the announcement Monday afternoon at a meeting of the White House Competition Council, created last year to help his administration find cost-cutting measures for consumers. This will be the third meeting of the group, chaired by the director of the National Economic Council, Brian Deese.
At the meeting, Biden plans to push other federal agencies to take similar steps to cut costs, including increasing transparency about hidden fees that can inflate the true cost of goods and services.
One example is a Federal Communications Commission proposal that would require Internet service providers to better define fees and charges on what the administration calls a “broadband nutrition label.” And the Ministry of Agriculture will also unveil new actions on Monday to encourage competition in various agricultural markets.
The administration has taken similar action on bank and credit card fees, which the White House says saved consumers $3 billion a year compared to before the Covid-19 pandemic. 19.
– Associated press