Adding a new level of controversy, Rep. Tom Graves, (R-Georgia-09), wants to introduce legislation to cancel the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) new rule requiring airlines to include government taxes and fees in their advertised price.
The move, The Travel Transparency Act, states passengers have the right to a clear, separate disclosure of the fees and taxes they pay on each airline ticket. If supported, the legislation could overturn the DOT policy.
“The federal government should not be inserting itself in the private sector to limit consumers’ ability to see how much they’re getting taxed. If the American people can’t see these costs clearly, I fear it will be easier these fees and taxes to be raised without their knowledge,” Graves said.
“If the goal of the DOT’s rule is to prevent companies from deceiving passengers about the total cost of their ticket, why is the department mandating that airlines hide the taxes, surcharges, and government fees in the fine print?" Graves asked.
“Transparency and honesty in ticket pricing should apply across the board – no matter if the cost charged to Americans is in the form of airfare, taxes, or government fees. Let’s list the various charges, line by line.”
“What’s wrong with letting the flying public know where their money is going? Making these taxes and fees invisible or hard to find will no doubt increase advertised airfare prices and decrease transparency. And, the taxpayers will be left holding the bag.”
The new DOT rules took effect last week and created controversy in the industry concerned with their impact on airlines, travel agents and consumers. The DOT’s new policy earned support from ASTA, the Business Travel Coalition (BTC) and the Open Allies for Airfare Transparency. The DOT's rules have been opposed by Spirit Airlines.
Until January 26, 2012, most airlines advertised the cost of airfare, excluding additional federal fees and taxes, according to Graves. The DOT’s new rule now requires any companies selling airline tickets to include any additional taxes and fees in the total advertised price of the fare, Graves said.
“Unlike other travel expenses, like hotel rooms and rental cars, where additional costs are listed line by line on the traveler’s bill, the DOT’s rule change means companies are required to bury the cost of taxes and fees in fine print. Airline passengers already pay at least 13 different taxes and fees on the average plane ticket," Graves noted.