New rules strike at heart of low-cost model

US air passengers can now see all baggage costs and other fees

New rules created by the US Department of Transportation with the consumer in mind, cancelling unexpected baggage costs and full-fee advertised fares, have now taken effect. The law forces airlines to advertise the actual price that passengers will be charged; forces them to disclose baggage fees when tickets are bought; forces them to tell passengers if a flight is cancelled, diverted or delayed by more than 30 minutes; bans them from charging further fees if they make connections to other airlines; and allows passengers to hold a reservation without payment for 24 hours – or cancel it – if the reservation is made more than a week before the flight.
Carriers such as Spirit Airlines are known for their attention-grabbing $9 and one-cent fares, although ads include an asterisk pointing to the small-print: “Additional terms, conditions and fees apply”.
“We don’t think the rules are fair,” Airlines for America, a trade group, says. “You don’t see this happening to other travel services. A hotel advertises a nightly rate, but it doesn’t say anything about taxes, and there’s a long list. Most consumers understand that taxes will be added on at the cash register.”
[pictured: Finnair A340; courtesy Finnair]