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US to make airlines display full prices, including charges, to protect consumers

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Pete Buttigieg is US secretary of transportation. Photograph: Jordan Vonderhaar/Bloomberg

Pete Buttigieg is US secretary of transportation. Photograph: Jordan Vonderhaar/Bloomberg

Pete Buttigieg is US secretary of transportation. Photograph: Jordan Vonderhaar/Bloomberg

The US Transportation Department (USDOT) is proposing requiring airlines and travel search websites to disclose fees for baggage, ticket changes and family seating the first time an airfare is displayed.

The Biden administration has proposed a series of rules to boost airline consumer protections.

“Airline passengers deserve to know the full, true cost of their flights before they buy a ticket,” said US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

The administration notes that in 2021, large airlines made $700m (€725m) just on cancellation and change fees. A major airline trade group did not immediately comment.

Last month, Mr Buttigieg told Reuters that airline rules were in need of a “refresh”.

The White House planned to tout the plan at yesterday’s third meeting of President Joe Biden’s competition council that was created in 2021. A White House official said Mr Biden in his remarks to the council would direct federal agencies “to train their focus on hidden fees that raise costs for consumers”.

In July 2021, USDOT proposed rules to require passenger airlines to refund fees for bags that are significantly delayed and refunds for services like onboard wifi that do not work. The administration has still not finalised those rules.

Under existing US rules, passengers are entitled to a fee refund if bags are lost, but not when delayed.

In 2011, the Transportation Department required disclosure of ancillary service fees by carriers and ticket agents on a page directly linked from their main websites.

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