Blumenthal Discusses Findings of Congressional Report on Airline Fee Abuses

(HARTFORD) – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) discussed the findings of a new congressional report analyzing the airline industry’s use of extra fees and add-on charges. The report, which was released by the Democratic staff of the Senate Commerce Committee, of which Blumenthal is a member, found that ancillary fees, such as change and cancellation penalties and preferred seating, are increasingly keeping consumers in the dark about the true cost of air travel. It also made a number of recommendations requiring more transparency from the airline industry.

“Air travelers today have more tools than ever before to analyze and compare flight costs, airport amenities, and on-time performance, but this report reveals that airlines are going to great lengths to keep the actual cost of air travel secret until it is too late,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Airlines have already eliminated meals, added bag fees, and slashed leg room. Now we learn the lengths to which they stoop to nickel-and-dime passengers from the moment a ticket is purchased. In some cases, airline websites only offer seats that require additional fees, while in other cases the penalties for changing flight plans can double the cost of a ticket – even when such changes are made far in advance of the flight. Airlines are striving relentlessly to conceal added costs and fees until consumers are stuck.”

The full report can be viewed HERE.

Among the report’s recommendations:

  • Better and earlier disclosure of ancillary fees to help consumers compare costs among airlines;
  • Require checked baggage and carry-on baggage fees to have a clear connection between the costs incurred by the airline and the baggage fees charged;
  • Require airlines to promptly refund fees for any bags that are delayed more than 6 hours on a domestic flight;
  • Limit airline change fees to a reasonable amount tied to lead time prior to departure and an amount less than the original fare;
  • Mandate that airlines place clear disclosures that “preferred seat” charges are optional;
  • Require airline and travel agency websites to have a clear and conspicuous links to the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection website; and,
  • Update the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection website to better assist the flying public.