Airlines challenge new consumer protection rules

In April , the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced wide-ranging Airline Passenger Rules that included, among other things, that airlines disclose all potential fees up front in advertising. Airlines want more time and are challenging the new advertising rules.

Airlines say they need another 6 months or so to “overcome substantial technological problems and properly train their employees,” according to a document submitted June 7 by the Air Transport Association of America, the Regional Airline Association and the Air Carrier Association of America reports TravelWeekly.

“We note that the Department has changed its position on full-fare advertising after 25 years of permitting posting of air transportation prices separate from government taxes and fees,” the airlines said. “Carriers have relied on this government policy and built their advertising practices around it. Dismantling the current advertising system and reassembling it to meet the new standards will take multiple steps and will be difficult and time-consuming.”The DOT Airline Passenger Rules that went into effect in April require airlines to refund any bag fee if the bag is lost, increased compensation for flyers who get bumped and put strict limits on tarmac delays too. But it’s the full disclosure of fees that has Spirit Airlines challenging the proposed new rules.

Among the rules Spirit is challenging: the full fare rule, which requires airlines to show the full cost of a fare including taxes and airport fees reports Travel Pulse. Spirit says that hides “enormous government tax burden on travel.”

Spirit is also protesting the new rule that lets consumers cancel a flight without penalty within 24 hours of booking. While some carriers do this already, Spirit says that consumers will abuse the rule as well as the proposed “price freeze” for non-ticket services after purchase. The result, Spirit says, will be higher ticket prices.

In a related story that may come into play also, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has become more involved with Internet advertising, soliciting public comment on how it should revise more than decade-old guidelines that translate federal advertising laws to the Internet. A significant difference between the bite of the DOT and the FTC is that the FTC has the ability to sue companies not in compliance while the DOT levies fines.

Related Stories

Flickr photo by ellenm1