The DOT Wants Airlines to Disclose Baggage Fees With Airfare

Jan 19, 2017

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Outgoing Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx is suggesting one last rule before leaving his post: disclosing all luggage fees as part of the total airfare. The proposed regulation was announced by the Department of Transportation (DOT) this Tuesday.

Under the proposed regulation, airlines and travel agents would be required to disclose the price of all luggage fees associated with the ticket, including the cost of carrying on luggage and checking luggage. In addition, both parties would be responsible for informing individual passengers of any discounts they may be entitled to, including receiving free carry-on or checked luggage as a result of their frequent flyer status or holding a credit card.

The proposed rule comes during the same week that two airlines revealed additional details about their basic economy fares. American Airlines announced it would begin rolling out a basic economy option this year, and we found out that United will likely launch its version of basic economy at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Both of these new fare options would introduce fees for carrying a bag on board, as well as increase fees for bags checked at the airport. These new fares aside, baggage fees are clearly adding up for travelers; in the third quarter of 2016 alone, the airline industry collected over $1 billion in luggage fees.

Currently, holders of each of the legacy carrier credit cards — such as the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and the United MileagePlus Explorer Card — are entitled to one free checked bag on regular fares when flying with those airlines. In addition, those with elite status can often check at least one bag free of charge when aboard their airline of choice or partner carriers. The proposed rule would force airlines to disclose all of those situations to travel agents, in order to better communicate a complete price (including checked luggage) to passengers.The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

This rule has immediately come under fire from airline trade organizations. In comments to Air Transport World, a spokesperson for Airlines for America called commercial aviation one of the most transparent industries because passengers decide on what they want, while the International Air Transport Association denounced the additional regulation.

Along with requesting more disclosures on luggage fees, the DOT is collecting comments on whether additional fees (including change fees), cancellation fees and other optional services, should be disclosed alongside airfare prices. The public can comment on the proposed rules at Regulations.gov until March 20.

Featured image courtesy of Massimiliano Schilliro / EyeEm via Getty Images.

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