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6/2/2010 17:27

I am definitely in favor of requiring airlines to list the total price upfront. Often I think I have a great deal, but then discover that it’s not so great after all when the taxes and fees add up to almost as much as the ticket itself. It might be good for airlines to be required to itemize the taxes and fees too, since I never have any clue what they cover. The DOT should require this type of disclosure too.

    6/3/2010 14:12

    Totally in agreement. It would appear that airlines are now making more money from the “taxes and other fees” than from the “fare” portion of what we pay them. Online travel agent services like Expedia, Travelocity or Orbitz should be required to show the full cost including all applicable taxes.

    7/12/2010 09:41

    1) There should be a minimum legroom size. Most airline have seats with 31″ pitch, which prevents tall customers from sitting with their legs straight in front of them. Several hours of flying with legs canted to one side or the other is painful on both knees and hips. It is inexcusable to require tall passengers to pay large amounts of additional money to have adequate leg room.

    2) On the other hand, overweight passengers who take up half of the seat of the person next to them should be required to pay for an additional seat. It is unconscionable to require a passenger to have an overweight stranger plastered against them for several hours.

    3) Airport screening should be equitable for all passengers. There is no justification for first class passengers having a separate and short line while other passengers endure long waits. First class passengers pay the airlines for the superior accommodation, service, and food they receive while on board the airplane. However, the screening is carried out by TSA, which is a government agency and, as taxpayers and citizens, we all should be treated equally.

    7/13/2010 17:01

    Well stated and I am in full agreement.

6/2/2010 22:02

(1) Advertised prices should reflicct the ENTIRE price that must be paid.
(2) Optional services should be opt-in
(3) Post-purchase increases should be permitted only if the purchaser is permitted to cance/change plans without penalty.

6/2/2010 23:35

Methods for pricing and advertising are inconsistent for both air carriers and third-party sellers, resulting in confusion for consumers that borders on fraud. Fees and surcharges paid to the airline can be misrepresented as government imposed taxes and surcharges. The following consumer protections should be imposed:

1. Final airfare cost should be fully disclosed in all advertising and sales.

2. Fuel and other surcharges paid to an airline should not be misrepresented to the consumer as government-imposed taxes and fees.

3. Baggage and all required additional travel costs should be fully disclosed and paid for by the consumer at the time of purchase (not a surprise at the ticket counter!).

The DOT proposal is very good but is not strict enough to provide adequate and necessary consumer protection.

6/3/2010 01:04

Giving the consumer’s more information regarding pricing schemes is definitely helpful for those who travel on a budget.

I think that post-purchase price increases should be banned. If a compromise must be reached, then any consumer must be allowed to refund their ticket if prices are increased–even if the ticket was non-refundable. Trapping consumers like this is horrible and quite unethical.

6/3/2010 14:25

Taxes and fees collected along with non-refundable fares should be refundable.
These are usually taxes or fees collected on behalf of the US or other governments and include such fees as border crossings, customs and agricultural inspection, taxes on ticket fares, security charges, airport use, etc.
When a ticket is canceled, these services are not used and the governments and other public facilities entitled to the fees do not receive them.
In effect, the airlines are stealing and pocketing money they collect on behalf of government entities!

    6/8/2010 20:21

    I’ve (knock on wood) never had to cancel a flight after purchase, but that blows my mind. LHR, the last time I flew there, had $400 in taxes on each ticket. If I’d cancelled, the airline would have kept the airport’s money? That’s insane!

    6/11/2010 12:32

    That’s an interesting point. Many major airlines seem to have the policy that for customers canceling a non-refundable ticket, the entire cost, including taxes, is applied as a credit to future ticket purchases. They will, however, include a cancellation fee (approx. $100-150). This is true for JetBlue, United, and US Airways. Do any contributors know of airlines that do not allow the cancellation of non-refundable tickets to be used as a credit like this?

    7/11/2010 09:33

    .. not all airlines allow the entire canceled value of the ticket to apply to a new ticket.. UNited allows you to “bank” the value of the ticket..there is a time limit of one year.. also, United charges a “change of ticket fee” of at least $150.

    7/19/2010 19:46

    Southwest says they apply 100% to a new ticket but there always seems to be a price increase or that price ticket is not available or some other excuse so that you always have to pay more. Also the ticket expires in one year, so you fly or you lose it.

    6/8/2010 20:23

    No, no, no, no, no to a less-than-complete ban. If it’s not an outright ban, the airlines, hotels, and tour operators will quickly concoct schemes to give themselves the right to do whatever they want to their prices after the fact.

6/3/2010 14:31

The European Union already requires that airlines post FULL prices, including taxes/fees, at the very first presentation of fares. This is required for flights originating in Europe.

American airlines respect this rule when a passenger enters their foreign-based web site, but airlines do not respect the rule when a passenger books the same flight (originating in Europe) from the USA version of the airline’s web site.

This can be verified on by selecting the country (US or other) at the top right of the web page and simulating a booking out of a European city.

Rule should require US airlines to show full fare regardless of which web site version is used.

    7/11/2010 09:34

    I agree.. the airlines should be required to post the entire cost of the ticket including fees and taxes.

6/3/2010 14:37

Airlines do not use uniform presentation of taxes and fees, especially fuel surcharges.

Some airlines break out fuel surcharge when taxes/fees itemization is requested. Other airlines include fuel surcharge in basic fare, so its amount is concealed.

All airlines should be required to present fuel surcharge separately, along with other taxes/fees details.

The itemization should also apply to foreign carriers who fly into the USA. Some claim to passengers that they don’t know what the itemized taxes/fees are.

Airlines should be required to clearly distinguish among taxes, government-imposed fees and surcharges. Some airlines currently label as “taxes” fees and surcharges they themselves impose.

6/3/2010 16:33

Prior to the implementation of passenger facility fees in the 1990s, domestic prices did include all taxes, although occasionally certain certain city surcharges were not included. The industry did just fine. I have no problem with a carrier charging a given fare but they should be honest about what the total cost of the ticket is to the passenger rather than stating a price and putting $30-$50 into the mix at time of purchase. If federal excise taxes can be included, there is no reason why other taxes, fees, and surcharges cannot be part of an advertised price. I wholeheartedly support this proposal. Ideally this would cover international as well as domestic travel as taxes, fees, and surcharges on international tickets frequently add hundreds of dollars to a price quote.

6/3/2010 16:52

Once purchased, ticket prices should be guaranteed. I support the complete ban. If the DOT decides to have a looser standard, passengers should be allowed to get their money returned if they choose not to pay the post-purchase fee.

    6/3/2010 18:26

    Ticket prices should include ALL fees seamlessly–no having to opt in or out or read fine print. We should all be able to make a reservation without worrying that we missed something and know exactly what we will pay. It should NEVER be OK to increase the price after a confirmed purchase–this is ludicrous! I do hope the DOT is very strict and across the board with their new regulations. Consumers are being gouged everywhere and it needs to stop.

    6/3/2010 20:01

    To clarify, the best action, in my opinion, for the DOT to take in regards to this matter is to completely ban post-purchase price increases

6/3/2010 18:27

Not only advertise TOTAL fare- but whether or not the fare is refundable.
Also – beyond the fare – the airlines are adding “FUEL SURCHARGES” to almost all international fares. The Fuel Surcharges need to be described as either refundable or non-refundable as well.

    6/3/2010 20:30

    Welcome to regulation room and thank you for your comments.

    Ekskoog, often tickets are refundable, but only if a fee is paid. Do you think this information should be included as well? When do you think a person becomes overloaded with information?

    What do others think about the idea of having to include information about whether a ticket refundable?

    7/19/2010 19:58

    Disclosure, disclosure, disclosure! How can I make an informed decision it the airline does not say the ticket is non-refundable and then comes along and charges $150 when I ask for a refund?

6/3/2010 19:03

This is just another regulation that takes basic responsibility out of people’s hands. If you can’t do the math to figure out the total cost then you probably should stay home since you can’t figure out the tax on your purchases at stores either.
As long as there is a requirement for a listing of the total cost before they charge you then it is up to the consumer to ASK what those other fees are.

    7/19/2010 20:04

    How do I ask? I’m talking to a computer program which doesn’t have a Do you have any questions? box to check. And the reason I’m on the computer is that there is an additional charge if I call a person who can answer those questions.

6/3/2010 23:51

Accurate fare disclosures will be very difficult. Airline fares are subject to routing restrictions, or, basically a list of acceptable cities through which connecting flights can be taken when necessary.

Taxes and fees can vary depending on the connecting city being used which makes full disclosure dependent on knowing the route the fare takes, and whether or not seats are available for any given day.

Keep in mind that advertised prices are very often not available for all flights. They are subject to availability.

One HUGE source of irritation are “surcharges”. They can be zero or as high as $300 round trip, possibly more. These seem never to be disclosed with any clarity, but in conjunction with other taxes and fees can cause the real price to be nearly double the advertised price.

Admittedly, full disclosure would be ideal. But, the tax and fee structure used would require revamping first in order to have adequate consistency to be able to publish a fare with a degree of accuracy.

6/4/2010 00:17

Yes to one way fare proposal! NO, no wiggle room: all fare prices should be as stated and final! All this caveats are just indended to provide sellers with means to mislead customers into thinking the fare could be smaller than it is!

Yes, ticket sellers will incur costs to adjust the websites and selling practices; however, these are the costs they incurred for unfair advertizing at the moment they created their current web sites and other means of semi-deceptive sales!

6/7/2010 21:14

Travel providers should be required to display the *entire* ticket price in their advertising. They should not be allowed to raise the overall price with taxes, fees, etc.

    7/19/2010 20:08

    Not just the ticket price but also the Agent’s fee, which sometimes is considerable. And Yes! they should not be able to raise the quoted price.

6/7/2010 21:17

Travel providers should absolutely not be allowed to advertise a “one-way” price when a round-trip purchase is required. That’s like a store advertising the price of one sneaker! Well, obviously you have to buy two sneakers so why would a store advertise the price for just one. Likewise, travel providers should clearly display the round-trip cost IF a round-trip purchase is required to obtain that fare.

    6/7/2010 21:25

    Thanks for your comments. Would you prefer to see a breakdown of taxes, fees, and the fare, as well as the total price, or just the total price, perhaps with a note that all applicable taxes and fees are included? Also, would you rather have advertisers show simply the one way fare, or also let you know what the one-way fare would be if a round trip ticket were purchased? Basically, would you prefer advertisers present more information, or just keep it simple?

    7/19/2010 20:22

    It makes no sense and is misleading to quote a one way price if I have to buy a roundtrip ticket. If the itemization is Boston to Bombay fare, then various fees, then Bombay to Boston fare and various fees, it is still misleading unless it is specifically preceded by “Round Trip Required” If I just want to go from Boston to Bombay and stay there or go somewhere else, I shouldn’t buy this ticket and I should know it “up front.”

6/7/2010 21:23

Absolutely NO increase in price for anything that’s already been paid for! There are too many simple-minded examples of why this is just wrong. I couldn’t even list them all here. Bottom line is, once a customer has agreed upon a price with the seller… and that happens when the customer pays… the seller absolutely cannot go back and play “changes” with the price. Once you pay for it, it’s paid for, done… no more money can be collected from the customer. Even if the travel provider made a mistake on the price… they should have to absorb their mistake. It’s the travel provider’s mistake… the customer agreed to the deal in good faith with the seller and paid the seller as expected. There is no way the seller should be permitted to collect additional funds from the customer.

    6/7/2010 23:26

    Keithanywhere thanks for the response.

    As a hypothetical, would your response still be the same if something drastic and unforeseeable were to take place such that fuel prices quadrupled between the ticket purchase date and the date of the flight? Do you think that in this extreme situation, the airline still should not be able to impose a surcharge?

    What do others think about Keithanywhere’s response and about this hypothetical?

    6/8/2010 05:26

    I definitely agree with Keithanywhere’s statement that “Once you pay for it, it’s paid for, done… no more money can be collected from the customer.” I can’t think of any other business transaction where it would be acceptable for a company to require a customer to pay more money after the transaction is completed.

    In an extreme situation like the one you proposed, I think an airline should still be restricted and NOT be able to impose a surcharge.

    6/8/2010 15:00

    I also agree that “Once you pay for it… no more money can be collected from the customer”, in in extreme situations such a a spike in fuel costs. An airline can hedge its fuel costs by signing long term agreements. I believe that Southwest has done this.

    7/13/2010 16:56

    You are either in business or guaranteed profit. You cannot have it both ways. Every business has its risks and good management deals with it accordingly. Passing those risks on to your customers in inappropriate. Once a purchase is completed a contract is in effect.

    On the other hand, if customers are provided the right to cancel according to their self-determined “drastic” circumstances with a full and immediate refund I might think differently.

    7/19/2010 20:41

    This whole process of additional regulation is brought about because of lack of disclosure by airlines and agents when they unbundle services and initiate obscene fees for them so that we buy tickets and still don’t have a deal because we may still be hit by additional fees at checkin. A DEAL SHOULD BE A DEAL!

    If in your hypothetical, fuel prices go down 25% do you think the airlines would or should give you a rebate? Would they? Of course not. Should they? Does a Gas Station put up a sign saying I’m going to lower my prices 10 cents a gallon tomorrow, come back then.?

6/8/2010 20:17

Any and all fees potentially associated with a fare should be disclosed in full, in a clear and concise manner. This should include differentiating between which charges originate from an airline and which don’t, and should also include a clear explanation of the differences between what rights you have at different fare levels.

The astronomical airport taxes levied at some international destinations spring immediately to mind as one charge that is mandatory for all fares, fixed, and something that will not vary if a consumer goes to shop with another airline.

As far as post-purchase price changes go, they should be considered fraudulent. It would be one thing if the airlines automatically refunded you money when they re-price a flight below the price you paid at time of purchase, because the potential for price changes would then at least go both ways. But since no airline, as far as I know, offers anything like a pre-order guarantee, the price paid at the time of purchase needs to be the last word in what the flight costs. (Barring any on-site add-ons like the customer bringing a heavy bag, or deciding to purchase an alcoholic beverage.)

6/9/2010 18:23

All the proposed solutions sound great to me. Advertised prices should always include the total price (taxes, etc.) for any seller of a ticket. No one should be allowed to “increase” the price of a ticket once it is purchased. It is up to the “seller” to know what they need to charge for a ticket. If they are too lazy to keep updated, they should eat the cost.

6/9/2010 19:14

I agree with all the DOT proposals for air travel, however I also agree with what others have stated regarding “one way / each way” fare proposal not going far enough. If round trip is required than the full RT fare is what should be in the ad.

Should DOT have a “one way” fare proposal for hotel/air and tour packages? Yes, definitely.

Regarding post purchase price increases, that practice is either extortion or coercion or both, and should be completely banned. If I purchase a trip at a particular price that is our contracted price and they should not be allowed to change it, thus destroying my plans and/or leaving such a bad taste of being ripped off that it effectively ruins the trip. Since this is sometimes done close to departure date it leaves customers/passengers with little option but to pay.

6/12/2010 16:29

The DOT should require posting of occupancy based rates similarly to the posting of one way fares.

The purchase price quoted should be the purchase price. The idea that a consumer could purchase a product and weeks or months later after vacation time has been booked at work and other plans made, the price could be increased is absolutely wrong.

6/12/2010 16:47

The only additions to an airfare should be government mandated taxes and fees.

“Surcharges” should not be allowed in any case. Fuel, for example, is part of the airline’s basic cost. It should not be an add on to a fare, but part of it.

If an airline wants to charge more on a certain day, the base fare should include that charge. It should never be added on.

And the proposed rule that the total fare be shown is the only appropriate way to avoid deceptive practices. If an airline wishes to inform a customer about the cost of taxes, is should be allowed to list the base fare before taxes in no greater than 1/2 the typeface of the total fare along with the total fare.

    6/12/2010 17:07

    Welcome to Regulation Room, Stone and thanks for sharing your opinion?

    Is the suggestion regarding typeface for pricing a suggestion for airline’s own sales of tickets or does this include all sales whether by airlines, travel agents, or other resellers?

    What do others think?

    7/19/2010 20:51

    I think we should always be talking about airlines, travel agents, and other resellers.

    I think the smaller typeface is a bad idea. Small type is always used for something the purveyor has to say but doesn’t want us to be able to read, and we usually can’t.

6/16/2010 19:12

Since all these airlines are still split on what services call for fees and how much those services actually cost, they need to create a standard for every airline to use as a basis for quoting prices. Go back a few years to what was considered “standard”, and have them quote on:

- RT airfare
- 1 checked bag
- advance seat selection
- beverage service
- taxes and fees

From there, passengers can unbundle as necessary or add things like premium seating and 2nd or 3rd checked bags (and PLEASE stop these companies from declaring all aisle and window seats “premium”).

Rather than encourage airlines to hide all the extra fees, it would instead encourage them to promote their fees — “You can save $XXX if you don’t check a bag and don’t care where you sit!”

    6/16/2010 20:07

    Excellent suggestions, Darkhelmet22. The idea of automatically including certain options with a clear option to remove them is intriguing. Does anyone else have suggestions on what options should be considered “standard”?

    7/5/2010 21:21

    I run a retail business. If I changed my prices every few minutes or hours like the airline does or charge my customers different prices on the same day. They would probably never come back and call the better business bureau. How is it that airlines can stick it to us passengers any way they please? And they wonder why so much distrust and angry customers.
    Recently I wrote to one airline that had a ticket price of around $198. but then listed the taxes at something like $400.00 extra. I told them it was Bait and Add on. Similar to some retail stores that Bait customers with low price and then Switch to higher priced goods. It is illegal and called Bait and Switch. The airlines or some ticket sellers are guilty of lies. Taxes are never higher than the price of the ticket. How dumb do airlines think we are?
    I spend hours trying to buy a ticket without getting ripped off. It should not be this difficult. And one way fare should be half of a RT not higher than RT. They force us to buy RT and then use only the one way portion.

    7/6/2010 09:59

    Thank you for your comment bill. I take it you support a full ban on post purchase price increases. Would a less strict proposal, such as forcing airlines to disclose price increases and requiring customers to affirmatively agree to them, be sufficient? Would a partial ban on price increases preventing them 30-60 days before the flight work?

    7/19/2010 21:07

    No! Retroactive pricing is essentially fraud and violates the contract made when money changes hands.

    I would favor a rule that disallowed even having a round trip requirement for prices. If an airline wants to give a credit for roundtrip like stores give case discounts on groceries or such, and listed it as a separate credit in their advertising and on their ticket that might work.

    Fares from Boston to New York might vary by time of day and by day of the week but they should never be based on Round Trip Required.

7/11/2010 14:43

Too often fees are hidden until payment is made. And options are not offered to delete those fees. ALL fees should be disclosed upfront, in all advertising, and on all websites! No exceptions!

    7/12/2010 15:15

    Thanks for your thoughts, Ken and Joel, and welcome to Regulation Rooom. We will keep your posts in mind as we prepare our summary of the discussion on this site–come back periodically to see if we are done, and to read other users comments–you keep us honest!

    In the mean time, check out the rest of the website and rule proposals. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

7/13/2010 13:59

I find it inherently frustrating to purchase an airline ticket. Prices go up in the few minutes it takes you to check another airline’s fare. This “price regulation by Ouija board” is slanted against the consumer.

A passenger’s relationship to an airline is that of consumer to goods purveyor, a quid pro quo. The transaction should be nothing if not straightforward and clear to both parties. When I buy a tank of gas for my car, I choose a pricing option and fill my tank. The price of those fuel gallons doesn’t rise while my tank fills. I know what I’m going to pay and I know what I’m going to get for that payment. Hard to believe that airlines should look to the fuel industry for guidance, but there you go.

Finally, there’s a sort of bait-and-switch going on, with the airlines promising comfort and care, when the reality is that most passengers will be highly uncomfortable for the duration of their flight, at least those taller than 5 foot five. The airlines industry assumes that all people are created equal – we can all fold ourselves into pretzels and remain that way in our seats for the duration of the flight. What of the pregnant woman? What of the old man with bad knees or the woman with a bad hip?

    7/13/2010 16:42

    Thank you for your comment, alpet. You raise some very important concerns. The DOT is particularly interested to hear possible solutions. Should all fare increases be prohibited within 30-60 days prior to the flight? Should restrictions be placed upon the way airlines can advertise, if so how?

7/13/2010 17:00

There has also been many reported incidences of credits taking months if not years to be provided by airlines. The DOT should require INSTANTANEOUS credits. Our debit/credit cards should be credited within the same time frame as they were debited for the original purchase. Any delay should warrant a substantial fine.

7/13/2010 17:10

1) Unless you can purchase the one way fare and ultimately find seating, I think any offer requiring round trip should be disclosed as such. This goes for hotel and/or air and packages.
2) No increase of prices after the purchase unless the customer agrees prior to the transaction without any additional inducement.
3) These changes would benefit the customers and place no additional burden on the sellers. All the gotchas in small print in the advertising costs more then the changes needed to make the site cleaner, leaner and fairer.

7/14/2010 12:25

I believe airlines should be forced to fully reimburse confirmed passengers whenever the airline changes flight schedules after booking. I frequently reserve flights up to one year in advance, in order to secure the lowest price and best seat. I do this even though the airline will charge me $150 (plus fare difference) to change my itinerary for personal reasons once booked.

However, the airline frequently change flight schedules for confirmed passengers without compensation, nor consideration of passengers’ plans.

For example, a trip to Europe on United Airlines has now been changed 7 times by the airline since I confirmed my reservation in December 2009. The resulting changes have added nearly 5 hours to the total trip, plus I’m now required to leave at 3AM for the airport (instead of my original departure of 8AM), and I return after midnight, rather than a more reasonable 10:30PM.

In addition, United Airlines has not offered to waive the change fee, nor provide seats on alternate dates or airline partners.

If I’m required to pay exorbitant fees to the airlines to change my original itinerary, due to personal circumstances, then the airlines should also be required to compensate inconvenienced passengers in full AND provide satisfactory alternate travel arrangements comparable to the original flight schedule.

Perhaps this would force the airlines to recognize the hardships they create for passengers when schedules are revised after passengers have already received confirmed flights and make related travel arrangements.

    7/14/2010 19:04

    Thank you for your comment. Please elaborate what might be adequate compensation say if you booked a flight well in advance, received confirmation, and made plan accordingly, only to have the scenario as you described occur? What, for example should be the compensation for the additional 5 hours tacked onto your original flight schedule?

    7/19/2010 21:20

    This is the same as bumping and should be compensated (punishment to the airlines) as such. See my comments under that category. It is not just the five hours, though that is bad enough; it is all the other inconveniences, arriving late at night, having to cancel engagements, having to call a cab for a long ride vs bus transportation, and a myriad other inconveniences for which the airlines in their hubris currently accepts no responsibility.

7/18/2010 11:24

I support all proposed regulations.

Price changed after purchase should not be allowed Air travel is often in conjunction with other other commitments such as tours or cruises with can not be canceled on short notice without penalty.

7/18/2010 12:47

Airlines should be required to post the price of their tickets including ALL taxes, fees, etc. so consumers can make easy comparisons.

7/18/2010 12:48

I agree with the proposed solutions.

7/18/2010 12:52

Airlines should not be able to advertise a one-way fare unless it is indeed the price for one way, not based on round trip. They should not be able to ask for additional money if the price goes up unless the opposite is true…if prices go down, the consumer should get an immediate refund-not have to ask for it. Honest price information will definitely help the consumer make an informed decision about which airline to fly. I’m not concerned how the changes will affect ticket sellers … it is false advertising they’re engaged in.

7/18/2010 13:29

Where are the real penalties for the airlines when they changes something? All the real charges are burdened on the consumer with only limited impositions on the carriers.

I often travel in a party of 4 and when the airlines change flights my seat assignments are all over.

I have been on flights where water was dripping from overhead, seats were seat backs and arm rests were stuck in bad positions, where the seat was sunken and were the smell was foul.

I wonder if anyone has measured the noise damage caused by sitting in those last couple of aisles by the engines.

I am been on trips where I was forced to stand in lines, rebook on very alternate roots and incurred delays due to equipment failure (and often multiple on one flight).

There should be minimum standards for operation (better than what they have now) and direct payback to the customers when these airlines deviate from the norm. I have to pay them when I do it why shouldn’t they?

7/18/2010 20:24

Once again, as a retiree on a fixed income I want to know the entire price up front and not have it suddenly changed or modified in any way.

7/19/2010 01:49

It’s very simple. I should be able to buy a flight for the price advertised in large print. If the ad says $49 from SFO to LAX, then that’s what I should be paying. If it is not a one-way price, then it should be listed as $98 round trip. If there are other fees, then the listed price should include those fees. It’s simple – just be honest.

7/19/2010 01:55

I have consistently had the problem where I selected a flight, and clicked the “Select” button, only to be told that the price had suddenly risen by hundreds of dollars. It’s the old “bait and switch”. When I cancel and start over again, I see the same thing: a low-ball offer, with a much higher price when I try to buy the ticket.

Airlines (or travel agencies such as Travelocity) should be required to honor the offered price for at least some number of minutes – at least 10 minutes. If the flight sells out while I’m deciding then fine, but the price I get should be the price I’m offered – if there is a seat still available. No bait and switch while you’re online.

    7/19/2010 12:37

    Thanks for your comment, dwilson99. Do you think this should apply to just the ticket price, or to all charges and fees as well? For example, should airlines be able to charge a fuel surcharge if the price of oil skyrockets? Or perhaps they should be forced to eat the loss when that happens?

    7/19/2010 21:28

    The price of fuel doesn’t change while I am trying to book a flight. Maybe airlines should only be allowed to change prices once a week, or once a day, always at midnight, or something like that. It is extremely frustrating to try to buy a ticket and have availability and/or price change while you are pushing the “Buy” button.

7/22/2010 11:37

Agreement here about “taxes and fees”. Exactly what are they? Not only should all hidden fees appear along with the price of the ticket, before a consumer purchases, but they should also break down who is imposing these fees and for what particular tax and/or service? All travel websites along with the airline websites need to be held accountable to these rules.

Leg room needs to be standardized throughout the industry. Then a consumer can make a more informed choice of whether or not to pay extra for additional leg room. I recommend the industry adopt a 33″ pitch throughout economy seating.

Increased fees after a ticket has been purchased is nothing short of “bait and switch” which I believe the federal government has declared illegal and prosecutable when businesses attempt to engage in such practices. Airlines need to be held to account like any other business entity. I do not see why airlines should be immune to this by DOT’s proposals.

If all fees and taxes, actual cost of ticket, opt-in extras for baggage and additional leg room would certainly aid me in comparing prices between airlines and allow me a more informed choice.

7/26/2010 18:58

Airlines, and 3rd party sites should be required to display the full price. Any optional fees should be disclosed and the prospective purchaser given the option of selecting those wanted, so they are included in the price and can be paid at the same time as the ticket. This allows people to compare the total fares.

Ticket sellers should not be allowed to raise the price after the ticket is purchases, except possibly if they will also reduce the price if lower fares are later published for the flight.

7/27/2010 20:44

Airlines should not charge for luggage unless you have more than 3. Ever gone on a two week trip with only a carry-on?

    7/28/2010 11:20

    Should there be any other factors such as weight involved in the calculation for when if ever the airlines should charge for baggage?

7/27/2010 20:46

Food service should be available for trips more than 2 hours. They now charge for pop, coffee and bottle of Alcohol. You can’t bring your own, as the gate will confiscate it.

7/30/2010 13:16

I support DOT’s proposed regulations. The pricing system now in place seems like an Old West, frontier-days free-for-all: get as much as you can any way that you can. I never know when to buy a ticket, early or late. Also, to add to the comments below, I agree wholeheartedly with the complaints about too little leg room. It’s become a torture to fly long distances, something to be endured rather than enjoyed, at least for those of us in coach. A sad demise for the industry and its clients.

7/30/2010 23:20

This is bait and switch type advertisements. They want to bait you into their site and then low and behold your ticket at the price you thought you were going to get was not available. Southwest does this and so do all the other carriers. Taxes and fees can be substantial and needs to be included in the fare quoted in advertisements.

7/31/2010 02:32

The public desperately needs the protection of regulated full disclosure of the total price of a ticket on all advertisements of any kind (on air broadcasts, in printed publications, on line). I can’t tell you how many times I have committed to an on line ticket purchase I thought was a bargain only to discover a laundry list of undisclosed fees tacked on at a point after I could not back out of the purchase. What in heaven’s name is a ” destination fee”? An extra charge for being delivered to the place for which I have purchased transportation? That’s like being charged a “food fee” in addition to the cost of a meal at a restaurant.

    7/31/2010 12:09

    Thank you for the comment, Karen Williams. The DOT appreciates hearing about the impact of the current system.

8/2/2010 21:06

The less strict approach on post-purchase increases seems reasonable. Full disclosure on fares will help with purchasing, yes.

8/4/2010 10:00

All advertising of fares must state a total price, inclusive, without limiting in any way the generality of either or both of the foregoing or the following, of every cost, fee, charge, tax, device, scheme, gimmick and ripoff, in clearly readable type, not less than 12 point (2 point leaded), prominently in each such advertisement.

8/4/2010 22:53

Full Prices should be fully disclosed up front, and the lowest price available should be disclosed. prices should not be increased after purchase.

8/7/2010 21:37

Please, how us the total price and stop confusing people with deceptive advertising. I agree with your proposed solutions. Thank you.

8/29/2010 09:26

Airline fares should be similar to way cruise lines price their cabins, with different fares for different seats and services. There should be no hidden fees to be added later. Thus, aisle seats could have one set of fares which themselves could differe according to what else is included, such as a second bag, food, right to use the bathroom more than once, an extra pillow, and so on. However, all fares should include one free carryon and one free checked bag.

    8/31/2010 20:16

    Thanks for your comment. This is an interesting idea. What do others think of this proposal? Do you think DOT should impose it, or should the airlines just be encouraged to adopt it themselves?

8/29/2010 09:28

Although DOT does not seem to present this option, I am most concerned about the byzantine price structuring for air fares that have no basis in actual cost of the service rendered. Air travel is a form of public transportation that is subsidized by taxes – and should be regulated as such when fares are set.

8/29/2010 09:35

My previous submission disappeared. I suggested airlines use a system similar to cruise lines, differentiating fares by categories that specify seat location and services included. Example- in the aisle seat category, differentiate front from back, and then including or not such services as an extra pillow, use of bathroom more than once, free earphone, etc. But one carryon and one checked baggage should always be free, as also the right to use the bathroom one time and one bottle of water free.

8/29/2010 11:15

Airlines should be required to list the number of seats available at each price. Also they should not be allowed to overbook.

8/29/2010 11:41

1. Full prices should be quoted
2. The airlines should be able to charge for anything on board except water.
3. Set a limit on the total size (by cubic feet) of bags that can be carried on, thus ensuring everyone the chance to stash a bag, not just those in seating sections 1-3. And do this before one gets to the gate. No more free checked bags at the jetway.

8/29/2010 12:35

DOT should require that when a fare/rate can only be achieved if two persons book that both the one person rate be displayed/provided unless it is clear that the person booking is booking for two.
DOT should not adopt a less strict approach to post-purchase price increases. If I buy a TV at Best Buy, Best Buy cannot come after me later to wring more money out of me. A traveler enters into a contract with an airline whereby the traveler pays a price so that the airline with transport the person somewhere on an agreed-upon date and time. When the airline later changes the price, it is effectively breaking the contract and extorting money out of the traveler who likely will lose more money it he or she objects.
Given the fact that travelers contract for airline travel at different times/dates between the time the airline posts the flight and the date of travel, and people already know that prices can change if they do not buy a ticket, the airline can raise ticket prices on seats purchased later. Further, the airline likely will include possible fuel price fluctuations in their calculation of ticket fares/prices.
Regarding ticket prices, I believe airlines should be required to publish a comparable, typical fare regardless of how they otherwise choose to display their pricing structure. For instance, all airlines should be required to publish the price, fee and tax inclusive, to fly round-trip with one checked bag to the destination. This would allow travelers to compare prices between carriers because the price would be for the same thing. To the extent other services could be provided (e.g. second bag or a premium seat), that could be displayed separately as an opt-in.
The biggest issue I have as a traveler with the various prices and airline price structures is that there is no comparability. While I think I may be getting a good deal with one carrier, there always seems to be some other amount I later must pay that, were it figured into the mix when I made the decision of which carrier to fly with, could have caused me to choose a different carrier.

8/29/2010 13:56

I believe advertised fares should state the entire price, including fees, taxes, etc. Fares cannot be advertised as one way if the price is only valid with roundtrip fares. These rules should apply to everyone who sells tickets. Post purchase price increases should not be allowed. Optional services should be offered on an opt-in basis.

8/29/2010 16:31

Advertised prices should include all costs, including baggage, etc. A total cost can go down if a passenger is exempt from checked baggage fees or a seat request fee but it may not go up by adding these fees. All charges should be OPT IN, not OPT OUT.

8/30/2010 15:54

Simply put, the total price is the only price that matters. Breaking the price out needlessly confuses the issue.

8/30/2010 16:47

I definitely agree with making full fare information available and advertising one way fares when indeed it refers to one way, not round trip.
For any airline or travel agent/booking site that treats optional services as op-in SHAM on you!

9/1/2010 09:40

A traveler should be able to know the full price of the ticket with all optional services included as he searches for a flight. This could be accomplished by presenting a list of all optional services on the first reservation page. The traveler would check off the optional services desired and the fares presented for the itinerary would include these so that a reasonable comparison could be made between airlines.

Airline Passenger Rights "Pricing & advertising"

Agency Proposal
By the Regulation Room team based on the NPRM
Agency Documents
1 36


Consumers have a lot of options for buying airline tickets and air tour packages. Dozens of travel service websites now compete with the airlines’ own sites (as well as with the “old-school” ways of using a neighborhood travel agent or calling the airline reservations number). Competition can be good, but the government is worried that sometimes consumers aren’t getting quite the bargain they think. DOT Department of Transportation is now considering stricter advertising requirements to make sure that ticket buyers aren’t fooled by fees and charges hidden in the fine print. And it’s thinking about whether to ban the practice by some tour operators of reserving the right to increase the ticket price after purchase.

This post will tell you more about what the problems have been, and what solutions DOT Department of Transportation is considering — and alert you to questions DOT particularly wants people to comment on.

2 24 The Problems:

Federal regulations now make it an “unfair and deceptive practice” and “unfair method of competition” to advertise a ticket price that is not the total price the consumer will end up paying. However, with the growing popularity of travel advertising on the Internet, by email, and through other electronic means, some ticket-selling practices have developed that violate the spirit of this rule, such as:

  • Quoting ticket prices without taxes and fees, then listing those charges separately — sometimes with the total cost calculated, but sometimes requiring the consumer to do the math;
  • Advertising prices for “one-way” fares that are actually available only if the consumer buys a round trip ticket;
  • Advertising air/hotel packages at a price for double-occupancy, but making them available only if travelers purchase two packages at that price;
  • As part of unbundling services that used to be included in the ticket price (see Baggage and Other Fees), adding charges for extra services (e.g. premium seat assignments, travel insurance) to the ticket price unless consumers affirmatively “opt out” of buying those services. (Often this is done through a small, pre-checked box — buried in the long set of terms and conditions — that the consumer has to uncheck to avoid the charge.)

Also, there’s been some doubt about whether the pricing/advertising regulations even apply to ticket agents someone other than an airline that sells, provides for, or arranges air transporation not affiliated with the airlines.

Finally, some ticket sellers (particularly air tour operators) reserve the right to raise the price or change the conditions of travel after the consumer has already purchased the services. Usually, the stated reason is something like passing along “fuel surcharges,” increases in the price of seats, etc.  DOT Department of Transportation regulations now allow this as long as the consumer gets “conspicuous written notice”, but some sellers still bury the notice in the fine print.  Then consumers are caught off guard with post-purchase increases.

3 20 The Proposed Solutions:

DOT is thinking about beefing up the existing “unfair and deceptive practice” rules with some additional requirements and clarifications:

  • Advertised fares may not show a price different than the entire price paid by the consumer. So, for example, many sellers would have to reverse current practices, and use the fine print or links/popups to break out taxes and fees from a clearly presented total price. This would apply to hotel, tour, or other packages as well as to ticket-alone advertising.
  • Fares may not be advertised as “one way” if in fact the price is available only for roundtrip travel. Instead, sellers must refer to these fares as “each way” if they reflect only one part of the required roundtrip price.
  • The new rule would apply to everyone who sells airline tickets — including independent travel agents, online ticket sellers, etc. — not just the airlines.
  • Optional services like travel insurance and premium seating must be offered on an opt-in rather than an opt-out basis.
  • The practice of post-purchase price increases in the air transportation portion of packages or tours would be banned outright.

DOT thinks it would be justified in ordering these changes in airfare advertising practices because no other state or federal agency or court has authority to decide what is unfair and deceptive in airfare advertising.

4 13 What DOT Department of Transportation wants to know from you:

Should DOT Department of Transportation also have a new rule like the “one way” fare proposal, to deal with advertising double occupancy rates for hotel/air and tour packages?

Should DOT Department of Transportation adopt some less strict approach to post-purchase price increases than a complete ban? Possibilities include:

  • Allowing the increases so long as the seller (i) “conspicuously discloses” the possibility of an increase, (ii) states the maximum amount, and (iii) requires consumers to affirmatively agree to this.
  • Same as above, except also prohibit increases within 30 (or 60) days of the first flight in the itinerary

How will these possible advertising changes be viewed by consumers? Will they really help airfare purchasers make more informed decisions?

How would the changes affect ticket sellers — including potential costs of changing current websites and other advertising structures?

See what DOT Department of Transportation said on this issue: NPRM Section 7.

See the proposed rule text on this issue: Section 399.84.

Want data on airfares?