Airline Fees Make It Very Difficult to Comparison Shop Based on Price

by Brian Wolfman

We explained recently that airlines may be misleading consumers into paying add-on fees for seats by tricking consumers in thinking that most of the good seats are sold out when they really aren't. And we've covered the issue of airline fees and prices generally many times (go, for instance, here and here).

Now, read this AP story by Joan Lowy, which explains that the ubiquity of airline fees charged separately from the base travel price, and the failure of the airlines to provide fee information to on-line travel agents such as Orbitz, are making it very difficult for consumers to comparison shop on the basis of price. The Obama Administration is considering new regulations, and one Transportation Department regulation is under fire from the airlines in the courts.

Here's an excerpt from Lowy's article:

For many passengers, air travel is only about finding the cheapest fare. But
as airlines offer a proliferating list of add-on services, from early
boarding to premium seating and baggage fees, the ability to
comparison-shop for the lowest total fare is eroding. Global
distribution systems that supply flight and fare data to travel agents
and online ticketing services like Orbitz and Expedia, accounting for
half of all U.S. airline tickets, complain that airlines won't provide
fee information in a way that lets them make it handy for consumers
trying to find the best deal. * * * Now the Obama administration is wading into the issue. The Department
of Transportation is considering whether to require airlines to provide
fee information to everyone with whom they have agreements to sell
their tickets. A decision originally scheduled for next month has been
postponed to May, as regulators struggle with a deluge of information
from airlines opposed to regulating fee information, and from the travel
industry and consumer groups that support such a requirement. Meanwhile,
Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Air and Southwest Airlines — with backing
from industry trade associations — are asking the Supreme Court to
reverse an appeals court ruling forcing them to include taxes in their
advertised fares. The appeals court upheld a Transportation Department
rule that went in effect nearly a year ago that ended airlines' leeway
to advertise a base airfare and show the taxes separately, often in
smaller print. Airlines say the regulations violate their free-speech

0 thoughts on “Airline Fees Make It Very Difficult to Comparison Shop Based on Price

  1. Aviation Aircraft seating market says:

    Thanks for comprehensive post…With the enhance in world air travel, growth in Passengers’ investment appetite and to fight against the rising fuel prices, Airlines are continuously improving and improvising to enhance their passenger carrying capacity, luxury and comfort to the air travelers.

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