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House Approves Transparent Airfares Act

Washington, DC, Jul 28, 2014 | Jim Billimoria, Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 | comments
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The U.S. House of Representatives today 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 government-imposed taxes and fees and the total cost of travel.

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The U.S. House of Representatives today 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 government-imposed taxes and fees and the total cost of travel.

The Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 (H.R. 4156) was introduced in the House by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), senior Committee Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), U.S. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), Transportation Committee Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, II (D-WV), Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), and Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-WA).  The bill passed the House today by voice vote.

In January 2012, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a rule that made it a deceptive practice for airlines to advertise the cost of their service, and required airlines and travel agents to bury government-imposed taxes and fees in the advertised price of a ticket.  DOT’s change to rules that had been in effect for 25 years effectively served to disguise from consumers the substantial and growing amount of government-imposed taxes and fees per ticket.  For example, current DOT requirements on airline and travel agents make it easy to hide the fact that the flyer pays $63 in taxes and fees – or 21 percent – as part of a typical domestic $300 airfare.

“This bill is a common sense, fair, bipartisan bill that provides airfare transparency to the flying public,” Chairman Shuster said.  “It simply clarifies that it is not an unfair or deceptive practice to advertise a base airfare price as long as the government-imposed taxes and fees and the total cost are clearly and separately disclosed as well.  No more hiding the ball from consumers.  This bill will allow passengers to better understand what they are paying in base airfare, and how much they are paying in government-related costs.”

“Just last week airline passengers were hit with a 125 percent increase in the TSA passenger security fee that will do nothing to increase aviation security,” DeFazio said.  “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.”

“The huge cost of government taxes and fees in airfare should not be hidden from consumers,” said Rep. Tom Graves.  “When people see the full price of a ticket, they should be able to know how much goes to the airline and how much goes to the government.  This bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support because it provides the transparency that consumers and taxpayers expect and deserve.”

Click here for various letters of support for the legislation, including from tax reform groups; pilots, flight attendants, machinists, and other labor unions; and airlines.

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Tags: Aviation