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DOT drops proposal to force airlines to disclose bag fees

UPDATED: Thu., Dec. 7, 2017

Delta passengers from Salt Lake City identify their luggage at the Spokane International Airport baggage claim on Tuesday. Airport officials are talking about a $110 million program to update airport facilities, including having a new central baggage claim area. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Delta passengers from Salt Lake City identify their luggage at the Spokane International Airport baggage claim on Tuesday. Airport officials are talking about a $110 million program to update airport facilities, including having a new central baggage claim area. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
By Joan Lowy Associated Press

WASHINGTON – An Obama administration proposal that would have required airlines disclose checked and carry-on bag fees at the start of a ticket purchase rather than later is being dropped by the Department of Transportation.

The department said in a notice posted online Thursday that it is withdrawing the proposed rule, along with a second, early-stage rulemaking to force airlines to disclose more information about their revenue from fees charged for extra services, because the rules would have been “of limited public benefit.”

Work on the proposals was frozen shortly after President Donald Trump took office.

Airlines are already required to disclose bag fees, but critics say the information is often hidden until after consumers have taken several steps toward purchasing a ticket.

Congressional Democrats and consumer groups decried the withdrawals, saying they would have protected airline passengers by providing greater transparency of airfares and fees.

“The administration is turning its back on airline passengers just before families are about to head home for the holidays,” said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

Charles Leocha, president of Travelers United, said passengers have no one to protect them from unfair airline practices except the Transportation Department, since no other federal or state agency regulates air carriers.

“It is a dereliction of duty for the DOT to stop its review of unfair and deceptive pricing of ancillary fees, which make it impossible for consumers to comparison shop for the best costs of airfare,” he said.

Besides scuttling the fee transparency proposals, the Transportation Department has also failed to issue regulations mandated by Congress last year to require airlines to refund fees charged for checked bags that are delayed and ensure families with young children can sit together on planes, Nelson said.

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