September 28, 2022

ASTA Shares Concern Over DOT's Proposal for Airfare Transparency

The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) has expressed "serious concerns" regarding a new proposed rule from the Biden administration designed to ensure that consumers have access to certain fee information before they purchase their airline tickets.

Under the proposed rule, airlines and travel search websites would have to disclose upfront—the very first time that airfare is displayed—any fees charged to sit with a child, for changing or canceling the flight, and for checked or carry-on baggage.

"Airline passengers deserve to know the full, true cost of their flights before they buy a ticket," U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. "This new proposed rule would require airlines to be transparent with customers about the fees they charge, which will help travelers make informed decisions and save money."

ASTA's Executive Vice President, Advocacy, Eben Peck, issued a statement in response to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposal on airline ancillary fees on Tuesday.

"ASTA has long believed that consumers deserve full transparency in airfares and optional ancillary service fees, as well as the ability to buy those services (transactability), regardless of the channel in which they elect to book their travel. Viewed through that lens, the DOT's proposal is a step in the right direction in that it requires airlines to provide travel agencies with ancillary fee information that is 'usable, accurate and accessible in realtime' and mandates transactability for some fees (those that enable family seating)."

“That said, ASTA has serious concerns about the effect the requirement to disclose multiple fees in each and every 'offline' transaction (over-the-phone and face-to-face)—even to repeat customers and frequent fliers—will have on agency operations," added Peck. "In its last proposed rulemaking on this topic in 2017, it mandated these disclosures only upon the customer’s request. It should do so again here."

"As with the Department’s separate proposal on airline refunds, we will consult with ASTA members and allied organizations, file comments and otherwise work around the clock to protect the interests of our members and their clients."

Copyright 2022 Northstar Travel Media, LLC. All rights reserved. From By Patrick Clarke.

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