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Consumer Group Defends DOT and Questions Spirit AirJanuary 27, 2012 By: George Dooley Travel Agent
The Consumer Travel Alliance (CTA) joined industry criticism of Spirit Airlines campaign to oppose new Department of Transportation (DOT) disclosure rules that impact airlines and travel agents. The CTA charged that Spirit has "twisted" the truth and joins with major industry groups and members of Congress in defending the DOT's new policy.
C'TA argues that airlines are incensed by the DOT's new rules and that Spirit Airlines is leading the charge. "After decades of being allowed to mislead the public and bury taxes and fees in the fine print, being forced to be honest doesn’t come easily," CTA says.
"Amazingly, now that airlines are being forced to “reveal” all taxes and fees in their advertised airfares, Spirit Airlines is claiming the government is requiring them to “hide” taxes from the flying public, " CTA says. " Balderdash! It is exactly the opposite. Now, the government is mandating that the airlines disclose all taxes and fees rather than hiding them in tiny type at the bottom of a newspaper or magazine page or in links from their website prices."
"Spirit Airlines’ most recent campaign claiming that the government is forcing them to “hide” taxes is a sorry twisting of the truth. In a move that would make George Orwell blush, Spirit has launched a website claiming that by including taxes and fees in advertised costs they are hiding the fees. The very premise of the website is misleading and another attempt to mislead their customers," CTA said. (www.keepmyfareslow.org)
On the website Spirit claims, "Thanks to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s latest fare rules, Spirit must now HIDE the government’s taxes and fees in your fares."
Absolutely false, says CTA. "The DOT rules only say that Spirit Airlines must include their mandatory taxes and fees in their advertised fares. Spirit Airlines must be upfront and honest. They can disclose a breakout of taxes and fees anytime they want."
"Spirit Airlines, in a burst of transparency, can create a separate web page with prominent links to taxes. They can plaster taxes and fees all over their home page. Spirit can tell their customers how much they have spent on taxes and fees in a separate line on every ticket itinerary. Their claims that the government is forcing them to hide taxes is a flat out, unadulterated twisted look at reality."
The CTA said it has worked with and encouraged DOT to mandate truth in advertising, and notes that there is nothing in the new regulations that prevents Spirit Airlines from publishing a complete breakout of their advertised price. "Just as oil companies often post taxes and fees at the pump, airlines are free to list taxes and fees any time they want," CTA said.
"Only an airline like Spirit that thrives on obscure ancillary fees that are not included in their ads or their booking process to make a buck could conjure up such a misleading, “the government is making me hide your taxes” campaign," CTA said.
"Spirit is an airline that, with a straight face, offers ridiculously low “airfares” only to pump them up with fee after fee after fee. Even after the ticket purchase, Spirit finds ways to squeeze in a few more fees. This is an airline whose marketing depends on using low advertised fares that cannot be purchased (because Spirit is hiding the taxes and fees) to pump up their fee income," CTA said.