Last updated: 04:35 PM ET, Wed June 24 2015

Passengers: We Want A Cap On Airline Change Fees

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | June 24, 2015

Passengers: We Want A Cap On Airline Change Fees

Passenger advocacy groups and airlines went face-to-face in Washington over the fees charged to change a ticket, with consumers asking for a cap on such fees and the carriers saying that’s unlikely to happen.

According to MarketWatch, in a presentation to the Department of Transportation’s Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection, Paul Hudson of said change fees were “out of control.” In fact, the 26 largest U.S. airlines took in a combined $1.6 billion in fees in the first quarter, up 7.4 percent from the same period last year and the highest amount for a Q1 since the Bureau of Transportation Statistics first started keeping such records on ancillary fees in 2008.

According to the BTS, 3.2 percent more passengers actually flew in the first quarter of 2015 compared to 2015, which would account for some of the checked bag and reservation change fees. But some airlines also increased those fees as well.

Although most airlines charge a standard $25 for the first checked bag, the second and third bags get exponentially higher. The same holds true with the reservation change fees -- $75 for some airlines, $100 for others, $200 for a few, and up to $1,000 change fee on international flights.

Hudson called for a $100 change fee cap on international flights.

John Breyault of the National Consumers League said there should be no change fee required if passengers cancel or change tickets five to 10 days before the actual flight.

But that’s not likely.

Speaking on the same day as the hearing in Washington, Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson, addressing The Detroit Economic Club, said such things as fees and tiered pricing structures are here to say.

Using the hotel industry as an example, Anderson said if you chose to stay with the Marriott brand, for instance, you could stay at a Residence Inn, a Courtyard, or continue moving right on up the chain to a Marriott, J.W. Marriott or Ritz Carlton.


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