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Sorry, Budget Airlines: Feds Are Cracking Down on Hidden Fees

The Biden administration wants airlines to disclose the total cost of a ticket up front rather than adding fees after the fact.
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Bad news for airlines banking on surprise seat selection and carry-on charges: The Biden administration wants to crack down on these hidden extra fees. New rules proposed by the Department of Transportation will require airlines to disclose the whole cost of a flight—including all potential extra fees—straight away. The goal is to add transparency back into booking flights so customers aren’t surprised by add-ons that can sometimes tack hundreds of dollars onto the cost of a ticket. 

“Airline passengers deserve to know the full, true cost of their flights before they buy a ticket,” Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg explained in a press release on the new rules. 

Airlines would no longer be able to hide extra fees for things like baggage, seat selection, or flight changes. Under the proposed rules, airlines and flight search websites will now need to disclose these fees upfront if any leg of the flight includes the United States. 

This kind of transparency is all too welcome for situations where you think you might end up with overweight luggage coming home from a vacation, you may want to book a seat next to your child, or you’re concerned about having to change a trip after you book it. President Biden hopes this opens up more competition between airlines, as consumers will be able to tell when a fee-happy budget carrier isn’t actually the least expensive option. 

The public is allowed to comment on these new proposed rules for the next 60 days, which you can do here on under the docket number DOT-OST-2022-0109. After that, they’ll still need to be finalized before going into effect, which Business Insider says could take months. Still, it’s a welcome first step towards making air travel less sneaky about its fees. 

This isn’t the first time the Biden administration has tried to address air travelers’ woes. Earlier this month, the Department of Transportation unveiled an easy-to-read dashboard breaking down what passengers should expect from each airline when flights are delayed or canceled. The Department of Transportation also has other proposed rules addressing the timeliness of refunds for delayed or canceled flights as well as services (such as wifi) that were paid for, but not provided. The Federal Aviation Administration is also asking the public for input on the minimum seat size they should allow in airplanes.

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