Could the Total Cost Airfare Rule Be Rescinded?
You might once again see airfares advertised for a very low price — before taxes, fees and surcharges are included to represent the true cost of what you will pay for your airline ticket — if the airlines and thirty members of the Congress of the United States have it their way.
Could the Total Cost Airfare Rule Be Rescinded?
Bill Shuster — a Republican congressman representing District 9 in Pennsylvania — is sponsoring the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, which “declares that it shall not be an unfair or deceptive practice for an air carrier or other covered entity to state the base airfare in an advertisement or solicitation for passenger air transportation if it clearly and separately discloses: (1) the government-imposed taxes and fees for the air transportation, and (2) its total cost.”
The Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 defines “base airfare” to mean the cost of passenger air transportation — excluding government-imposed taxes and fees; and defines “covered entity” as an air carrier — including an indirect air carrier, foreign carrier, ticket agent, or other person offering to sell tickets for passenger air transportation or a tour or tour component that must be purchased with air transportation.
It is no surprise that many airlines support the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, as it would essentially reverse the Total Cost Airfare Rule which became effective on January 26, 2012. Here is the supposed list of supporters for the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014:
- Air Line Pilots Association International
- Airlines for America
- Alaska Airlines
- Allied Pilots Association
- American Airlines
- Americans for Tax Reform
- Association of Flight Attendants – CWA
- Coalition of Airline Pilots Association
- Cost of Government Center
- Delta Air Lines
- International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers
- International Brotherhood of Teamsters
- Southwest Airlines
- Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association
- Spirit Airlines
- United Airlines
Airlines infamous for advertising ultra-low airfares such as Allegiant Air and Spirit Airlines — the latter of which advertises so-called “$9.00 airfares” — had reportedly filed legal appeals two years ago to have the United States Court of Appeals in the Washington, D.C. circuit overturn the rule, claiming that the rule “violates commercial free speech rights.”
I have always been against what I perceive as deceptive advertising. I want to know the total cost of what I am paying when I book an airfare — or a hotel room or rental car, for that matter; and I have always believed that the full price should be what is advertised…
…and that should include all taxes, fees and surcharges. I do not want to see an airfare advertised for nine dollars and wind up paying $300.00 after all taxes, fees and surcharges are finally included.
If this discussion is of any indication, most FlyerTalk members seem to agree.
Calling the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 “a total waste of time”, FlyerTalk member timfountain does not know why it is even up for discussion.
Perhaps the reasons are political in nature. “The average passenger doesn’t care what makes up the price, only what the price will be to get on the plane and get where they’re going (and come back)”, according to FlyerTalk member Spoddy. “This is just a political movement to return to the times when airlines can advertise their cheap fare to draw you in.”
The Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 was introduced and referred to the House Public Works and Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation — a subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee — on March 6, 2014; and it was reported by Committee on April 9, 2014. The remaining three steps is that it needs to be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate; and then signed by the president of the United States…
“What I think would be perfectly fair to both airlines and consumers is: Fares available from $720 + $150 NON-AIRLINE taxes and fees, so it’s fair to airlines that people won’t be decepted into thinking the fare is higher than it is to the airline, but doesn’t make comparative shopping too hard”, opined FlyerTalk member 1353513636.
“A poor idea”, posted FlyerTalk member Spiff. “Total price should be required up-front. And ‘price each way based on round trip purchase’ when one cannot get the same fare just one way should not be permitted.”
FlyerTalk member SpartanTraveler “will make sure to vote against any politician who supports this bill and encourage all my friends, family, and colleagues to do the same. This bill is nothing but a way for airlines to mislead customers. Any politician who supports this bill is a snake who doesn’t deserve to remain in office and I will make sure everyone I know learns about it. I will gather a list of all the politicians who support this bill and clearly show how they are voting against their constituents interests and opening the floodgates to fraudulent advertising. Then have people hand the list out at airports and posted throughout the terminals.”
You can start here with the 29 co-sponsors of the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, SpartanTraveler.
If you are an American citizen who is opposed to the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 — also known as H.R. 4156 — you are urged to contact your representative in Congress and let him or her know your thoughts and how you feel. You can also express your thoughts to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee — of which Bill Shuster is chairman — here as well.
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.