House committee approves airline ticket price revisions

A visual explanation produced by the House Transportation Committee.
A visual explanation produced by the House Transportation Committee.

To the applause of the airline industry, the House Transportation Committee has approved a bipartisan bill that will allow airlines to advertise low ticket prices that don’t include the amount in taxes and fees that passengers must pay.

It’s an attempt to reverse a 2012 regulation by the U.S. Department of Transportation that was intended to save passengers from hidden taxes and fees, requiring airlines to state the full price of a ticket in their advertising. It said airlines must include all mandatory taxes and fees in published fares, and that they disclose baggage fees to consumers buying tickets.

Prior to that rule, airlines were allowed to list government-imposed taxes and fees separately from the advertised fare. That 2012 DOT rule said the bottom line shown in advertising had to be the true cost of the ticket, and the airlines also had to list upfront any baggage fee charges.

The bill to thwart that regulation was introduced by Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) two days after a White House budget proposal included increases in several areas that could impact the per-ticket price paid by fliers. The administration asked for a $3.50 increase in the passenger facility charge, a $2 increase in the customs user fee, a $2 increase in the immigration user fee and a 40-cent increase in the TSA passenger security tax.

“Air travel remains one of the best bargains for consumers, but that affordability is imperiled by rising government taxes and fees,” said Nicholas E. Calio, president of the industry group Airlines for America. “We thank Chairman Shuster and Representative DeFazio for their leadership in promoting government transparency, protecting customers and holding Washington accountable for the taxes they impose on air travel.”

The trade organization should know “exactly how much of their ticket price goes to federal taxes and still know the full price of travel before they purchase.”

Ashley Halsey reports on national and local transportation.
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