Airlines Dispute Advertising Restrictions
In protest of the US Dept. of Transportation's requirement that air travel advertisement should accurately reflect all charges associated with flight documents, including all taxes and fees, Dallas-based Southwest, Spirit Airlines and Allegiant, have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to block the proposed rule.
In a June 3, 2011 Department of Transportation statement, “Under DOT’s recently adopted consumer rule that enhances protections for air travelers, carriers will be required, among other things, to include all government taxes and fees in advertised fares beginning Oct. 24."
“All Airlines for America members provide details on ticket prices and other charges prior to purchase today," says Steve Lott, vice president of Airlines for America, the Washington-based lobbying group for airlines. He continues, "We believe consumers should always know what they are paying for, including how much of their ticket prices go to taxes." He maintains that the objective should always be consumer awareness and best practices toward consumer price comparison, "We share the DOT goal of continuously improving the customer experience and our member airlines will implement the new rules as efficiently as possible.”
DOT said Wednesday that they decline to comment on the lawsuit, since it is pending litigation. However, DOT requires that advertising which includes a price for air transportation must state the full amount to be paid by the consumer, including carrier-imposed surcharges.
In apparent disagreement with the new requirements, a few carriers have been fined as a result of inaccurate or incomplete advertising. Says Southwest spokesman, Chris Mainz, that regarding air travel, the justification for consumer understanding of cost is not the issue. He says, in comparing prices online or anywhere else, "everything is advertised as the price of (an) item separately from the tax on that price. Forcing airlines to include taxes will also make air travel look more expensive when in reality it's not." More expensive than a flight with another airline? Or more expensive than some other form of travel?
Comparison shopping for your next flight should now be a little easier.