U.S. Airlines Challenge DOT Over Mandated Fee Disclosure

by Alice

Major U.S. airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, JetBlue, Hawaiian Airlines, and Alaska Airlines, along with the advocacy group Airlines for America, have initiated legal action against the Department of Transportation (DOT) concerning its recent directive on the disclosure of “junk fees.”

The lawsuit, reported by Reuters, seeks to overturn the DOT’s rule, asserting that it would perplex passengers and constitute an overreach of regulatory authority into private business operations within a competitive market.


Airlines for America emphasized to The Associated Press that carriers already make efforts to inform customers about ancillary fees and that the DOT’s rule would only serve to complicate the purchasing process.


The DOT’s finalized rule, issued last month, mandates that airlines disclose upfront the charges for services such as first or second checked bags, carry-on bags, and reservation changes or cancellations, without utilizing hyperlinks.


Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg expressed that this regulation aims to save passengers over half a billion dollars annually by ensuring airlines are transparent about fees.

In response, the DOT affirmed its commitment to vigorously defending the rule, aiming to shield consumers from undisclosed fees and ensure clarity regarding flight prices prior to ticket purchase.

Besides the fee transparency mandate, the DOT has outlined guidelines for airlines to refund passengers for canceled or significantly delayed flights. Effective October 28, airlines must automatically refund travelers in such instances if alternative transportation or travel credits haven’t been accepted.

While Southwest Airlines abstained from joining the lawsuit, it recently introduced a DOT-mandated compensation scheme, offering transferrable vouchers of $75 or more to travelers experiencing substantial delays due to airline-caused disruptions or cancellations.

Southwest clarified to the AP that the fee transparency rule minimally impacts them, as they permit passengers to check up to two bags for free and have never implemented additional charges for cancellations or changes.

The airline emphasized its support for clear and consistent fee disclosure across the industry, enabling consumers to make informed decisions while respecting each airline’s pricing autonomy.



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