Current Weather
The Spy FM

New Rules Mean Full Disclosure For Airfares

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
January 3, 2012

New rules will soon compel airlines and travel sites to disclose the total price of an airline ticket upfront. But some airlines say the rules aren’t fair, and they’re going to court to try to stop them.

Right now, some airlines and travel sites lure in customers with very low fares — and a tiny asterisk. Government taxes and fees — and perhaps a fuel surcharge — can be found in the fine print or on another screen.

Kate Hanni of FlyersRights.org says lots of travelers complained. “People would get up against the point where they were about to make a purchase, and suddenly the cost of their ticket went up because of these taxes and charges,” Hanni says.

And comparing prices wasn’t easy.

Take a currently advertised $79 fare between Los Angeles and Seattle. Taxes and fees bring the ticket to about $90.

International Flights

“International fares, certainly, is where we see the biggest hit,” says Joe Megibow, vice president of the online travel agency Expedia.

He says charges on international flights can total hundreds of dollars — sometimes more than the ticket itself.

And, like the federal government, Megibow believes all the charges should be disclosed upfront.

“We think consumers should have the right to know what they’re paying for their airfare,” says Bob Rivkin, general counsel at the Department of Transportation. “They need to have an effective means of comparing alternative methods of travel, and that’s what we are trying to provide,” he says.

New Rules

A new rule that goes into effect later this month will require airlines and others to include government taxes and fees — along with any mandatory charges — in their advertised fares.

Steve Lott, a spokesman for Airlines for America, the industry’s largest trade group, says the airlines will comply, but they aren’t very happy. “The odd thing is this type of regulation does not apply to any other industry,” he says.

He points out that rental car companies don’t have to disclose taxes and fees in their ads, nor do retailers who sell TVs.

Moreover, the airlines say the rule violates their right to free speech, and Southwest and a couple of smaller carriers have filed suit in federal court contesting the rules.

Other rules slated to go into effect later this month include one that will allow passengers to cancel a reservation within 24 hours with no penalty — so long as the reservation is made at least a week before the flight. Others require additional disclosures concerning baggage fees, compel more timely notification when flights are delayed or canceled, and prohibit price increases after the tickets are purchased.

Hanni, the passenger advocate, says that last September, hundreds of travelers bought what they thought were low introductory fare tickets on Korean Air. “And then two months later, Korean Air sent a letter to every single passenger that purchased those tickets and said, ‘We are going be canceling your tickets unless you want to pay us this amount more.’ “

Under the new rules, the government could fine an airline for such actions and compel it to honor the original price.

What else can consumers expect in the coming year?

Expedia’s Megibow says passengers are likely to experience more of what they didn’t like about air travel last year.

“You were paying more money, getting more of those middle seats, crazy check-ins and check-outs as you are getting on to those very full planes, so it was not, overall, a great year for flying,” he says. “We haven’t seen anything to indicate it’s going to be a whole lot different in 2012, but we will see.” [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

2PM to 3PM The Dinner Party

The Dinner Party

Think NPR meets Vanity Fair. In each episode, hosts Rico Gagliano & Brendan Francis Newnam talk with some of the world's most interesting celebrities, and along the way equip you with bad jokes, fresh drink recipes, hot food finds, odd news stories... and etiquette tips from the likes of Henry Rollins and Dick Cavett. It's all you need to get an edge in your weekend conversations. Past guests include Michelle Williams, Judd Apatow, Kid Cudi and Sir Richard Branson. Wallpaper magazine calls The Dinner Party one of the Top 40 Reasons To Live In The USA.

Listen Live Now!

3PM to 4PM The Splendid Table

The Splendid Table

Hosted by award-winning Lynne Rossetto Kasper, The Splendid Table is a culinary, culture and lifestyle program that celebrates food and its ability to touch the lives and feed the souls of everyone.

View the program guide!

4PM to 5PM Weekend All Things Considered

Weekend All Things Considered

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center