DOT Drops Proposal Requiring Airlines to Disclose Baggage Fees

Dec 9, 2017

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In January, just before American Airlines and United launched their basic economy fares, outgoing Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx proposed a DOT rule requiring airlines and travel agents to “disclose to consumers the fees for a first checked bag, a second checked bag, and a carry-on bag when providing airfare information.”

The motivation behind the proposed rule was to inform passengers about the true cost of their flight now that most airlines charge fees for at least checked bags — if not also carry-ons. And policies can vary widely from one airline to another.

On Thursday, that proposed rule was killed off by the Trump administration calling it “of limited public benefit” and saying the rule would “require airlines to incur significant costs to implement.”

In a statement about the decision (caution: PDF link), Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao explains: “The department is committed to protecting consumers from hidden fees and to ensuring transparency. However, we do not believe that departmental action is necessary to meet this objective at this time.”

With basic economy being rolled out on more routes plus the surge in low-cost carriers both domestically and internationally, figuring out the total cost of your flight isn’t as simple as the headline fare advertises. And without up-front fee disclosures, comparing prices between airlines is even more challenging.

This DOT proposal seemed like a “least they could do” rule to provide transparency in this area. So, it’s disappointing to see this scrapped.

If you need help comparing airfares, make sure to install the “Legrooms for Google Flights” extension. The one-and-done installation automatically adds the seat pitch to initial Google Flights search results and flags fares that don’t include free carry-on bags.

Featured image by fizkes / Getty Images

What do you think about the decision to scrap the proposed rule?

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