The U.S. Department of Transportation is currently evaluating a “lengthy series of requests” from major airlines that would allow them to hide ancillary fees for consumers as they’re searching for tickets, according to Bloomberg.
In particular, airlines are asking the DOT to repeal rules implemented by former President Barack Obama’s administration that require “full-fare advertising,” Bloomberg reports. The move stems from efforts by third-party booking platforms—like Google or Kayak—which rely on airline data to provide accurate prices for travelers, as well as on-time flight and cancellation information during the ticket-purchasing process.
But a major lobbying group for the industry, Airlines 4 America (representing the likes of United and American Airlines), argues the rules are “cumbersome” for the industry, which raked in $7 billion in fees in 2017 alone.
In December the airlines sent a lengthy series of requests to the U.S. Department of Transportation that’s being evaluated. Among the priorities: repealing rules that mandate “full-fare advertising” and eliminating the requirement to display on-time flight and cancellation data during the fare-purchase process. In other words, they’re hoping to conceal the data that power third-party distribution channels—and all their shiny new features.
A representative for Airlines 4 America, the leading industry group, tells Bloomberg that the current requirements are “cumbersome” and “add clutter and complexity to the booking screen.”
Yes, when I go looking for a flight, and I come across more accurate pricing and departure information, I tend to freak the fuck out and close the screen. It’s just too complex. Surely, you all do the same, right?
Typically, though, I survive and complete the process with a decent sense throughout of the ticket cost. If the DOT approves the airline industry’s request, companies would be allowed to hide the data third-party sites rely on to provide more accurate information—thereby having the effect of actually making it more complicated to compare prices while shopping for a ticket.
And if the December announcement from the DOT that it would no long require airlines to disclose hidden baggage fees when people start the ticket-buying process is any indication, it’s almost certain this proposal will pass, too. Great.