Travelers Beware: Baggage Fees Can Officially Remain ‘Hidden’

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Baggage claim
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The U.S. Department of Transportation has nixed an Obama-era proposal that would have required airlines to disclose baggage fees to travelers upfront.

The federal agency announced its withdrawal of the proposed regulation this week. The DOT said this move is in line with its “priorities” and Executive Order 13771, titled “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.”

President Donald Trump signed that executive order on Jan. 30, 10 days after his inauguration.

Had the Obama-era proposal become a federal regulation, airlines would have been required “to clearly disclose” certain baggage fee information “at all points of sale,” including “wherever fare and schedule information is provided to consumers,” according to the DOT.

This would have included fee information for:

  • A first checked bag
  • A second checked bag
  • One carry-on bag

The Associated Press reports:

“Airlines are already required to disclose bag fees, but critics say the information is often hidden until after consumers have taken several steps toward purchasing a ticket and isn’t always clear. Travel agents and websites that sell tickets also complain that airlines sometimes withhold information on fees, preventing third-party sellers from providing consumers with the full cost of the airfare.”

In other words, the proposed regulation would have made it easier for consumers to compare the full cost of one flight with another.

Supporters of the DOT’s nixing of the proposed regulation include Airlines for America, a trade association for U.S. air carriers.

In the AP report, the association praised the federal government for “recognizing that airlines, like all other businesses, need the freedom to determine which third-parties they do business with and how best to market, display and sell their products.”

According to DOT statistics, baggage fees accounted for about $4.2 billion in revenue collectively earned by U.S. airlines last year.

If you’d rather not add to such statistics, check out “How to Avoid 10 of the World’s Most Infuriating Fees” — which begins with baggage fees.

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