New Gov’t Rules Require Full Fare Disclosure in Airfare Ads

by  Elissa Garay | Jan 4, 2012
Plane / Biletskiy_Evgeniy/iStock

Have you ever gone gaga for those $9 advertised airfares, only to discover that after taking into account applicable taxes and fees, they worked out to as much as 10 times as much? New U.S. Department of Transportation rules, set to take effect on January 26, will soon require airlines and travel sites to disclose the full price of a ticket upfront, inclusive of all fees and taxes. While consumers might rejoice at the promise of transparency in advertised rates (particularly on international fares, where some of the most drastic discrepancies between base rates and post-tax and fee-inclusive fares apply), some airlines aren’t quite so happy. In fact, a handful, including Southwest, Spirit, and Allegiant, are going to court to try and defend their right to free speech and to utilize that long-used little asterisk, leading to that dreaded tiny paragraph of fee- and tax-disclosure print.

In all fairness, the airlines would be the only industry subject to this type of regulation. (For the time being, rental car agencies, hotels, cruise lines, etc. will remain exempt). However, increasing use of Internet and social media site (Facebook, Twitter) advertising in recent years has made the fine print more difficult to pin down, leading to the government’s push for the upcoming changes. Including optional charges, like checked baggage fees, will remain exempt from the new regulations.

Here at Savvy Flyer, we’re looking forward to seeing clarity brought to how tickets and flights are priced and promoted – that straightforwardness is sure to be breath of fresh air(fare).

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