Transportation department abandons proposal to make airlines more transparent about extra fees

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It can be confusing hunting for a good deal online when buying an airline ticket.

Sure, you can compare basic prices at sites like Expedia or Priceline, but you often won’t learn about those extra charges -- like the ones for checking a bag or reserving an aisle seat.

A proposed regulation at the Department of Transportation was supposed to make airlines more transparent in their pricing by requiring them to include baggage fees in the ticket price.

But the transportation department got rid of that proposed regulation this month.

“Right now I think the message from DOT is we don't have your back,” said consumer advocate Charlie Leocha, head of Travelers United. Leocha said the regulation would have made it easier for flyers to comparison shop.

Baggage fees can add $25-150 to the price of a ticket.

“That's a lot of money,” Leocha said.

A transportation department spokesman told Fox 4 Problem Solvers that the extra layer of transparency required under the regulation was deemed potentially costly and unnecessary. He said airline websites already contain information about baggage fees.

He said the proposed regulation would have required those same fees to be reported again but in aggregate, and that wouldn't have benefited consumers.

Leocha disagreed. He said it’s just one more way the department isn't protecting the consumer.

For example, last year the transportation department was supposed to stop airlines from charging families with children younger than 14 extra money if they wanted to sit together.

“Has the DOT done anything in 18 months? No,” Leocha said.

Leocha said the department has also failed to enforce a bill passed by Congress that mandates airlines reimburse passengers for baggage fees if their bags aren’t delivered on time or are lost.

“It seems like the inmates are running the prison,” Leocha said. “The airlines are running DOT.”

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