Airlines push back against Biden administration’s fee disclosure rule

The airline industry is facing pushback against a new Department of Transportation rule that requires earlier disclosure of add-on fees during flight booking. Major airlines, including Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, and United, along with trade group Airlines for America, have filed a petition in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge the rule.

The airlines argue that the DOT exceeded its legal authority when it published the rule in late April, calling it “arbitrary, capricious,” and an “abuse of discretion.” They claim that the rule will confuse consumers and complicate the buying process, as airlines already provide complete disclosure of fees associated with air travel before ticket purchase.

The Biden administration introduced the airline fee disclosure rule in September 2022 with the aim of providing transparency to consumers. The rule requires airlines and online travel agencies to disclose fees for seat selection, checked baggage, and other add-ons upfront alongside the airfare, rather than adding the costs at checkout based on a customer’s selections.

President Joe Biden emphasized the importance of knowing the full cost of a ticket when comparison shopping. However, the airline industry contends that the rule is unnecessary and goes beyond the DOT’s authority by attempting to regulate private business operations in a competitive marketplace.

Overall, the airline fee disclosure rule has sparked a debate within the industry about the balance between consumer transparency and business autonomy. As the legal challenge unfolds in court, the outcome will have implications for how airline fees are disclosed and whether additional regulations may be imposed in the future.

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