Consumer Travel Alliance Wants Airline Fees Visible

According to a recent survey from the Consumer Travel Alliance (CTA), the top priority for consumers in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill now moving through Congress is a requirement for all airlines to disclose their hidden fees for services – including baggage, seating and priority boarding.

The survey, conducted by CTA among more than 500 frequent travelers online, found that 58 percent of respondents said that forcing airlines to disclose their fees should be the top consumer priority in the bill. This beats requirements for airlines to provide services to consumers who are waiting for extended time to takeoff (27 percent), creating a consumer complaints hotline (6 percent), or requiring airlines to provide text/e-mail notice for changes in flight status (1 percent).

”Congress should focus on allowing airline passengers to get full pricing information and be able to compare airfares and optional fees across airlines wherever airline tickets are sold,” said Charlie Leocha, director of the CTA. “It’s almost impossible for consumers to compare the true cost of air travel – with more and more obscure extra fees, Congress needs to act. Transparent pricing is what makes America’s free market work.”

In 2010, U.S. airlines collected more than $9.2 billion in ancillary fees for checked baggage, priority boarding, and other services, according to a 2011 survey by CTA.

FAA Reauthorization legislation, which has passed both chambers of Congress and is now being considered by a conference committee, would impact nearly every aspect of the airline industry, CTA said in its analysis. However, conferees have not yet committed to including a provision that would make all airline fees visible and sellable through every distribution channel an airline decides to use, CTA said.