Five US Airlines Are Suing to Block the Biden Administration’s Crackdown on Hidden Junk Fees

by Anthony Losanno
LAS Security

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Airlines for America, along with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, and Alaska Airlines, filed suit in the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Friday in an attempt to block the Biden administration from requiring airlines to provide greater transparency over fees that they charge passengers. The claim is that the new rule would confuse consumers with too much information provided at booking. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) says it will defend the new rules against “hidden junk fees.”

The lawsuit asks the court to overturn the new transparency rules. It claims that the DOT is  overstepping its authority with its attempt “to regulate private business operations in a thriving marketplace.” It goes on to say that consumers do not lack information around the fees they pay when booking airfare.

Airlines for America said today:

Airlines go to great lengths to make their customers knowledgeable about these fees. 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.”

Among the nation’s six largest airlines, Southwest is the only one not to join the lawsuit because it claims that the new rules have no impact on its business as it allows passengers to check two free bags and has never charged change or cancellation fees.

The DOT released its new rules on April 24th. It requires airlines and travel agents to disclose any charges for baggage, cancellations, or changes upfront while booking a reservation. These fees must be shown on the first page where they quote the flight’s price. It’s estimated that these disclosures will save consumers around $543 million annually per The New York Post.

US airlines collected around $6.8 billion in baggage fees in 2022 and $5.5 billion in the first nine months of 2023 (the only data reported so far). This is a huge sum of money and something that the airlines have used to drive profits for far too long.

Anthony’s Take: I’m all for the transparency that is being required of airlines when consumers are booking airfare. Basic Economy tickets are the only ones that repeatedly warn of extra fees and there is no reason why everything shouldn’t be provided up front.

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4 comments

michael May 13, 2024 - 6:12 pm

Those airlines have some brass neck!

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jsm May 13, 2024 - 6:40 pm

Not surprising that the closed court is the Fifth Circuit. I’d like a link to the actual complaint so as to understand how the filing could be in the Fifth Circuit rather than one of that circuit’s District (trial) courts. It would be useful to also know which law firm is representing the airlines.

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Christian May 13, 2024 - 7:16 pm

Judge shopping no doubt. Do you really think it’s a coincidence?

Reply
Christian May 13, 2024 - 7:19 pm

The airlines are right! As a consumer I want a vast array of scam fees hidden from me so I can’t make an informed decision until the buying process is almost complete. Why would I want to make a valid comparison of products. Next up, I want grocery stores to do the same with variable hidden surcharges that don’t appear until I’m checking out.

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