“Lower” Airfares Coming Soon — But Don’t Be Fooled

E xpect airfares to be “lower” when they are advertised in the near future, as the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 was passed on Monday, July 28.

The House of Representatives of the United States “overwhelmingly approved bipartisan legislation to return transparency to U.S. airfare advertising and providing greater clarity for consumers by allowing advertisements for passenger air travel to state the base airfare” and separately disclose any taxes and fees imposed by the government and the total cost of travel.

Recently, “airline passengers were hit with a 125 percent increase in the TSA passenger security fee that will do nothing to increase aviation security,” according to Peter DeFazio, a Democrat who represents the people based in the fourth congressional district in Oregon. “Rather, the increase will be used to offset other government spending. The fee went through without raising many eyebrows because that cost was hidden in the airfare. If the government wants to be seen as transparent and accountable about the taxes it imposes, this is a good place to start.”

I do agree that government taxes and fees should not be hidden — but I do not believe reverting back to the way fares were displayed is the answer either.

It is no surprise that many airlines supported the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, as it would essentially reverse the Total Cost Airfare Rule which became effective on January 26, 2012, according to an article I wrote on April 22 earlier this year.

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”.

Well, they got their way.

As I mentioned yesterday in this article, I have always been an advocate of showing the total price of anything to the consumer whenever possible to avoid surprises.

Perhaps I am missing something here; but along with the total airfare, why not just add the required breakdown of the total cost of airfare in a more prominent position than what is currently required? This way, the consumer — you — can have all of the information necessary to you in order for you to engage in an informed decision when it comes to the purchase of an airline ticket.

What are your thoughts? Are you for or against the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014?

  1. Although I agree that the Transparent Airfares Act is a misnomer, and I do agree that the total price (including taxes) should be advertised– has anyone heard of VAT?– I do notice one positive aspect of the bill that might lead to positive change in the way fares are advertised (that is, if this bill gets past the Senate and the President):
    “The term ‘base airfare’ means the cost of passenger air transportation, excluding government-imposed taxes and fees” (emphasis on government-imposed).
    Although the definition is explicit in that it limits that definition of ‘base airfare’ to for the purposes of the bill, I can’t help but optimistically wonder– could this lead to the demise of YQ?

  2. First, this is about a two and a half week old story?
    Second, this is just the house and not senate, so expectations are premature.

  3. I think showing the total with an option of the base fare is pretty fair, unless airlines hate showing so many prices in the advertisement.

    In any case, if they want to show just the base fare, I think the government should get rid of “fuel surcharges” completely. Fuel is a part of the price, not tax but airlines treat it like tax and charge it on their award tickets. I think someone should push this idea: Yeah you can advertise without taxes but no more fuel surcharges. I think without fuel charges, the increase in price should not be TOO surprising.

  4. this is only passed in the house. it is expected that it may have some difficulties in passing in the senate. it’s going to take a while anyways.

    1. True, sadln and bohan — it was received in the Senate on July 29, 2014, read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation:


      Robert Menendez — a Senator representing New Jersey — supports this bill:


      By the way, I do want to apologize for the title of this article; as I did not intend to sensationalize or be misleading. My reporting was simply sloppy in this case — that is no excuse, and I am not proud of it — and FlyerTalk member 84fiero is correct with the posted comment — and please click here to access it.

      I actually appreciate when people take me to task and hold me responsible for what I post and report. Please accept my apologies. Thank you.

  5. In addition to the fact that this is entirely unlikely to pass in the Senate you seem to have missed the part where there is nothing preventing the airlines from including the breakdown on fares/taxes today and many already do. This move has absolutely nothing to do with “transparency” and everything to do with the airlines looking to screw customers by raising the fares (not making them cheaper).

    And neither of the lawsuits were successful so claiming that the airlines “got their way” is ridiculous. Especially since the rules have not actually changed yet.

    So much bad in the headline and “reporting” (and I use that term very loosely) here. Very disappointing, indeed.

    1. Thank you, Seth. I appreciate your feedback and apologize for disappointing you — and I sincerely mean that.

  6. There is another disgusting point to add to this general discussion that the carriers do not want to talk about but are VERY aware of. Think Spirit here but it applies to all carriers. Any portion of a ticket price that is NOT airfare is not taxed. Fees, gas, security, Facility charges, etc. ALL of these are exempt from being charged the general aviation tax. The less the amount of actual airfare the less amount of taxes to support our airport and aviation infrastructure.

  7. The government has required airlines to not show taxes in advertising. Spirit Airlines is the only airlines I’ve seen that actually breaks down all the taxes you are paying in your fare. I’m not sure it’s fair to make airlines report prices in a manner other companies aren’t required. When you buy a meal at a restaurant the price doesn’t reflect the tax and tip. When you see cars on sales and they put the price up on the screen in big letters, all they put is +TTL. Most products we purchase do not show the tax, and other fees , when they show their price. I’m all for transparency. But if we’re going to make on industry transparent, let’s make them all transparent.

    1. I completely agree, Pablo

      …in fact, gratuities and tips have been hotly debated for years amongst frequent fliers. Should they be included as part of the overall bill, as is the practice in many establishments outside of the United States?

      In the meantime — while I do believe that it is nice to know the breakdown of why a product or service costs what it does — I would like to go to the grocery store and purchase items with the tax included…

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