New Bill Aims to Ground ‘Ridiculous’ Airline Fees

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Tired of being hit with additional fees when you fly? This proposed legislation is on your side.

Are you sick of being nickel and dimed by airlines? From sky-high baggage fees to costly ticket-change or cancellation fees, it seems like airlines are always finding a new way to gouge consumers.

A new bill in Congress aims to rein in soaring airline fees and keep them in check. The Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act, introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), would effectively ban airlines from assessing fees “that are not reasonable and proportional to the costs incurred.”

Basically the legislation would enable airlines to recoup the costs associated with a service it provides — like checking a bag — but it would prohibit the carriers from charging exorbitant fees to generate revenue. The FAIR Fees Act directs the Department of Transportation to examine the airlines’ cost to process checked bags, change tickets and cancel tickets.

According to government data, U.S. airlines collected more than $5.1 billion in baggage, ticket change and cancellation fees during the first three quarters of 2015.

“Airlines should not be allowed to overcharge captive passengers just because they need to change their flight or have to check a couple of bags,” Markey said in a statement. “There is no justification for charging consumers a $200 fee to resell a $150 ticket that was canceled well in advance.”

Although the legislation may not garner enough support in Congress to move forward, it’s getting a thumbs up from consumers and business travel groups.

“Airlines are overcharging consumers with fees that are grossly disproportionate to the value of the service received and result in a windfall for airlines. ‘Exhibit A’ is change fees, where airlines charge $200 when the true cost of a change is 6 to 7 times lower, if not zero,” Business Travel Coalition founder Kevin Mitchell explained to Skift, a travel industry intelligence site. “This kind of unconscionable consumer price gouging is a textbook example of unfair methods of competition that underpin competition laws.”

According to Bloomberg, Airlines for America, the industry’s trade group, called the bill “nothing more than an effort to re-regulate an industry that was deregulated to the consumer benefit.” The organization said the griped-about fees are necessary to “help to reduce passenger ‘no-shows’ and the need for airlines to overbook.”

Looking for some savvy ways to save money on flights, food, Wi-Fi and baggage fees? Check out “Wring the Most From Your Airline Travel Dollars – Even During the Holidays.”

What do you think of the proposed FAIR Fees Act? Sound off below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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