As airports prepares for Memorial Day rush, some airlines sue DOT over disclosure fee rule

AAA projects around 43.8 million people will travel 50 miles or more from their homes over the Memorial Day weekend holiday.

It’s wheels up for another potentially record-breaking summer travel season with millions expected to pass through airports nationwide over the Memorial Day holiday.

“I’m like, ‘oh my gosh, like is it gonna be longer wait times? Am I gonna get be able to get here as late as I usually do to push it,” said traveler Stacy Miyamoto.

But this year, there’s some new turbulence.

Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, and United Airlines along with the lobbying group, Airlines for America, are now suing the federal government over its latest junk fee rule. It would require airlines to disclose all fees – including those for checked bags and change fees - up front!

“I think that’s pretty reasonable. I think it’s common sense,” said Secretary Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Department of Transportation.

Kirstin Garriss talked one-on-one with Transportation Security Pete Buttigieg about the lawsuit.

“We are going to defend this rule. We think it’s the right thing to do,” said Buttigieg. “We think they should be doing it without us even having to ask, but we’re requiring it because customers, passengers deserve that information.”

Airlines For America said carriers already show those fees before a customer buys their ticket. In a statement, the organization said the rule “will greatly confuse consumers who will be inundated with information that will only serve to complicate the buying process.”

A spokesperson added airlines also advertise fee discounts and benefits with loyalty programs.

But Secretary Buttigieg believes the rule is necessary.

“And I would argue that if an airline’s not even telling you what some of the fees, charges and costs are before you buy a ticket, that’s unfair and deceptive,” said Buttigieg.

At Regan National Airport, travelers had mixed reviews about the proposed rule change.

I feel like they’re running a business, so I say let them run their business,” said Miyamoto.

“We should be able to understand what you’re charging me and I shouldn’t have to find out later when I get a bill,” said traveler Anthony Henderson.

Another new rule will require airlines to provide automatic cash refunds if there’s a cancellation or a significant flight delay.

The Transportation Security Administration predicts more than 18 million people will pass through airports this Memorial Day weekend. The TSA expects this Friday will be the busiest with nearly three million passing through airport checkpoints. Airports are also reminding travelers to arrive early and be prepared for long lines. Staff say also know TSA’s carry-on luggage rules to get through security faster.

Full statement from Airlines for America on the lawsuit:

U.S. airlines care deeply about the customer purchasing experience from first search to final purchase and invest heavily in their websites and mobile apps to ensure both transparency of all costs and ease of use for each customer with a purchase path tailored to that customer’s specific choices. Airlines already provide consumers with complete disclosure of all fees associated with air travel before they purchase a ticket.

The ancillary fee rule by the Department of Transportation will greatly confuse consumers who will be inundated with information that will only serve to complicate the buying process.

DOT’s attempt to regulate private business operations in a thriving marketplace is beyond its authority. DOT has failed to establish that consumers are unable to obtain information about ancillary fees. To the contrary, consumers are well-aware of the existence of ancillary services fees. Airlines go to great lengths to make their customers knowledgeable about these fees. In addition to the disclosures required by existing DOT regulations, airlines engage in competitive advertising and emphasize ancillary fee discounts and benefits when they promote their loyalty programs. The DOT ancillary rule is a bad solution in search of a problem.

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