US airlines sue Biden administration over new rules on ‘junk fees’ transparency

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
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Airlines in the United States (US) have launched legal action against the Department of Transportation (DoT) over new rules requiring more cost transparency when passengers are purchasing tickets.  

The US airlines, which include Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines, argue that a new rule would confuse potential customers with too many details while buying tickets online. 

Headed by Airlines for America, the group of carriers asked a federal appeals court on May 10, 2024, to overturn the rule, according to ABC News.  

“Airlines go to great lengths to make their customers knowledgeable about these fees,” Airlines for America said in a statement. “The ancillary fee rule by the Department of Transportation will greatly confuse consumers who will be inundated with information that will only serve to complicate the buying process.” 

On April 24, 2024, the DoT announced that it would require airlines to tell consumers upfront what fees they charge for checked bags, a carry-on bag, for changing a reservation, or cancelling a reservation.   

“This ensures that consumers can avoid surprise fees when they purchase tickets from airlines or ticket agents,” the DoT said.  

Under the rules each fee must be disclosed the first time that fare and schedule information is provided on the airline’s online platform and cannot be displayed through a hyperlink. 

Airlines were also required to describe any prohibitions or restrictions on changing or cancelling a flight. 

In response to the legal action taken by the airlines the DoT said: “We 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. Many air travelers will be disappointed to learn that the airline lobby is suing to stop these common-sense protections.” 

Southwest Airlines was not involved in the legal action because its passengers can check two bags for free and changing or cancelling flights is not charged. 

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