Biden to propose new rule requiring airlines to disclose extra fees upfront
(The Hill) — President Joe Biden on Monday afternoon will propose a new rule requiring airlines and travel search websites to disclose extra fees upfront when passengers purchase their tickets.
The rule is the administration’s latest step to increase accountability on the airline industry as passenger complaints over delays and cancellations have soared in recent months.
The proposal would require airlines and websites to disclose added fees — like those to change and cancel flights, check baggage or for parents to sit with their child — when they first display airfares to potential customers.
The Transportation Department said Biden will announce the proposal during a meeting of the White House Competition Council scheduled for later on Monday.
“Airline passengers deserve to know the full, true cost of their flights before they buy a ticket,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “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.”
Monday’s announcement comes as part of Biden’s sweeping executive order aimed at promoting competition in the economy through 72 initiatives cracking down on anti-competitive practices in multiple industries.
American Airlines and JetBlue begin their antitrust trial on Monday after the Justice Department and attorneys general in six states and Washington, D.C. sued to block a partnership between the two airlines, accusing them of reducing competition in New York and Boston air routes.
Buttigieg’s department has also taken aim at the industry in recent months, proposing its own stricter regulations to clarify when airlines owe passengers refunds after delaying or canceling their flights.
The Transportation Department also released a dashboard last month to aid customers in determining if they are entitled to a refund.
The moves come as the airline industry finds itself under increased scrutiny, with passengers returning to the skies in greater numbers as many carriers report hiring challenges.
The staffing difficulties, which in some areas have extended to air traffic control centers, have led airlines to delay or cancel flights, a problem only exacerbated by high fuel prices and severe storms this summer.
The Air Line Pilots Association, the largest pilot union, however, has contended that no such pilot shortage exists.
Many airlines have offered pay incentives to attract and retain pilots, and the Federal Aviation Administration rejected a request earlier this month from one carrier to loosen flight time requirements for new pilots.
Mesa Airlines, which operates smaller routes for United Airlines and American Airlines, announced on Thursday it would finance the costs for more than 1,000 pilots to build the 1,500 hours of flight time required before flying commercially and make them a priority for employment.
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