Senate Committee Calls for More Reasonable, Transparent Airline Fees
With frustration brought on by increasing congestion and airline fees growing exponentially among air travelers, government officials are beginning to take notice.
The United States Senate Commerce Committee's minority staff released a report Thursday, titled "The Unfriendly Skies: Consumer Confusion Over Airline Fees," criticizing select airline fees and add-on costs while recommending changes to benefit the flying public.
The report, which cited a recent study that determined worldwide airlines pulled in a hefty $38.1 billion in extra fees in 2014 — a more than 1,400 percent increase from 2007, found that ancillary fees tend to mask the real cost of air travel.
"The traveling public is being nickel-and-dimed to death," said the panel's top Democrat Bill Nelson in a statement. "What’s worse is that many fliers don’t learn about the actual cost of their travel until it’s too late."
Nelson said he will seek action from his colleagues when the Senate undertakes legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration.
The committee made a handful of recommendations, including clearer and faster ancillary fee disclosure in order to assist consumers in comparing airline costs.
Other recommendations included bag fee transparency, swift bag fee refunds for delayed luggage, limited change fees, mandatory disclosure that preferred seating charges are optional as well as appropriate links and updates to the Department of Transportation's Aviation Consumer Protection website.
The report was met with resistance from the Airlines for America trade organization representing U.S. airlines. In an emailed statement to the Associated Press, spokeswoman Jean Medina said "it would be difficult to find an industry that is more transparent than airlines in their pricing."
"The fact that a record number of people are traveling this summer further demonstrates that customers always know what they are buying before they purchase," she added.
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