Airlines Under Fire from Department of Transportation for Not Displaying Fees

The Department of Transportation is investigating a number of unnamed airlines for not displaying fees prominently on websites, thusly violating a rule put into effect Aug. 23.

A DOT spokesman said the investigation was ongoing and could not reveal the names of the airlines until a civic penalty is issued.

Travelers have been vocal for years about hidden fees and undisclosed charges. Airlines, however, are not fans of the required listings. In 2010, fees brought in airlines $5.7 billion.

The 3 Hidden Gotchas of Airline Advertisements

An investigation by the Huffington Post found that most major airlines were ignoring the new rule that required all fees be disclosed and accessed with a highly visible link on their homepage.

Instead, a majority of sites either had no direct link or a manual search of the site was required to find the information about fees. The DOT said foreign airlines could take better steps to display their fees as well.

“After seeing fines metered out by DOT in rapid succession the past few years, I doubt the airlines are intentionally thumbing their noses at the agency,” said Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare. “That said, it is likely they are trying to figure out the minimum they have to do to comply.”

Airline Fees Could Reach $9 Billion

Four major airlines – United, American, Delta and U.S. – are resisting reporting their fees. The Air Transport Association, which represents more than 19 airlines, has said in court papers that each fee listed will cost the airline $1 million in additional accounting system programming costs.

The DOT said this request should only add on $150,000 in costs.

The fees airlines are required to disclose over 16 categories, as well as baggage charges and reservation changes.


Published: October 19, 2011