Airlines Must Now Reveal Taxes, Fees in Quoted Fares

Advertised airfares by airlines and travel agents – in print, on television and online – must include all mandatory taxes and fees, including baggage fees, under new U.S. rules taking effect today to help consumers avoid confusion and price shock when buying tickets.
Also beginning this week, airline passengers are able to hold a reservation without payment, or cancel a booking without penalty, for 24 hours after the reservation is made – if they make the reservation one week or more prior to a flight’s departure date.
Moreover, airlines are now required to “promptly notify passengers” of flight delays of more than 30 minutes – and flight cancellations and diversions – and are generally prohibited from increasing the price of passengers’ ticket after it is bought.
“Airline passengers have rights, and they should be able to expect fair and reasonable treatment when booking a trip and when they fly,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “The new passenger protections taking effect this week are a continuation of our effort to help air travelers receive the respect they deserve.”
Before this week’s new rules, airlines and ticket agents were allowed to publish fares that list government-imposed taxes and fees separately from the advertised total – as long as these taxes and fees were assessed on a per-passenger basis.
However, these notices of taxes and fees were often not prominent in ads or websites, and not obvious to consumers.
Under the new requirements, all mandatory taxes and fees must be included together in the advertised fare.
The advertising provision took effect today, while all of the other consumer protections went into effect Jan. 24.
The new requirements are the final provisions to become effective from the Department’s most recent batch of consumer protections. Some new measures took effect Aug. 23, 2011, including requirements that airlines refund baggage fees if bags are lost and provide increased compensation to passengers bumped from oversold flights.
Also beginning last August, U.S. transportation officials set a four-hour time limit on tarmac delays for all international flights at U.S. airports, and extended the three-hour tarmac delay limit for domestic flights to smaller airports.  It also required additional airlines to report their lengthy tarmac delays to Department of Transportation.

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