Biden Admin. Sued By Major Airlines Over Fee Disclosure Rules 

U.S. Airline Industry Struggles Through Turbulent Times
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 15: A jet comes in for landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on April 15, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. With skyrocketing fuel prices and a weak economy, US airlines are turning to mergers which could ultimately lead to higher fares through reduced flights and increased market power. US carriers emerged from a five-year slump in 2006 but with $35 billion in losses. In the latest merger move to save profits, Delta Air Lines Inc will buy Northwest Airlines Corp for more than $3 billion, creating the world's biggest airline. Recent profit challenges to the industry have lead to the shutdown of ATA, Skybus, and Aloha Airlines as well as bankruptcy for Frontier Airlines. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

OAN’s Abril Elfi
3:10 PM – Monday, May 13, 2024

Major United States Airlines are suing the Biden Administration and the U.S. Transport Department (USDOT) over a new rule that requires upfront disclosure of airline fees. 

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According to a copy of the lawsuit posted by Reuters, Airlines for America, along with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines, filed suit in the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals late Friday.

With the intention of assisting customers in avoiding unnecessary or unexpected costs, the USDOT released final regulations last month mandating airlines and ticket brokers to reveal service fees in addition to airfare.

On Monday, the airline group released a statement saying that the department’s rule would confuse customers and its “attempt to regulate private business operations in a thriving marketplace is beyond its authority.”

The airlines’ lawsuit calls the rule “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and otherwise contrary to law.”

The USDOT said that it “will vigorously defend our rule protecting people from hidden junk fees and ensuring travelers can see the full price of a flight before they purchase a ticket.” 

The agency said last month the new rule would result in many consumers paying less for fees when traveling by air.

According to the agency, customers overpay $543 million in fees each year. Airlines profit from these customers who are taken aback by the fees and “then need to pay a higher fee at the airport to check a bag.”

If passengers pay at the time of the flight or do not pay in advance, major airlines charge higher fees for bag checks. Numerous major US airlines increased the cost of checked baggage earlier this year.

“Must be individually disclosed the first time that fare and schedule information is provided on the airline’s online platform, and cannot be displayed through a hyperlink,” according to USDOT regulations governing baggage and flight modifications.

The rule, according to USDOT, will also put an end to “bait-and-switch tactics some airlines use to disguise the true cost of discounted flights.” Promoting discounts off a “low base fare that does not include all mandatory carrier-imposed fees” is forbidden for airlines.

The rule was dubbed “a bad solution in search of a problem” by the airline group. 

Despite expressing support for the USDOT proposal’s provisions, Southwest Airlines refrained from joining the lawsuit.

According to the airline group, before a customer buys a ticket, airlines already fully disclose all costs related to air travel.

In 2022, US airlines made almost $6.8 billion in baggage fees; in the first nine months of 2023, they made $5.5 billion.

The rule requires airlines to inform consumers that seats are guaranteed and that they are not required to pay extra. Airlines must provide the following notice: “A seat is included in your fare. You are not required to purchase a seat assignment to travel.”

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