FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 5, 2012
SCHUMER CALLS ON DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION TO REQUIRE AIRLINES TO DISCLOSE ALL CARRY- ON BAGGAGE FEES WITH ORIGINAL PRICE QUOTES FOR TICKETS SO THAT PASSENGERS KNOW THE TRUE COST OF A TICKET BEFORE THEY PURCHASE AIRLINE SEAT
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to require airlines that charge carry-on baggage fees to fully disclose those fees in all price quotes for airline tickets in order to allow consumers to know the true cost of a flight and to do comparison shopping between different flights. Schumer’s call comes in the wake of reports that Allegiant Air is now charging passengers carry-on baggage fees of up to $35 per bag stored in an overhead bin. Two years ago, Schumer successfully secured commitments from the major airlines to refrain from charging carry-on baggage fees, but Spirit Airlines persisted, and now Allegiant Air has begun doing so. However, when consumers go to purchase tickets, carry-on baggage fees are not listed as part of the initial price quote – instead consumers are directed to additional airline disclosure pages to see a list all potential fees. Schumer is calling on the DOT to change the regulation to require that exact carry-on baggage fees, standard fare for anyone traveling, be disclosed with the price quote provided by airlines.
April 5, 2012
The Honorable Ray LaHood
Dear Secretary LaHood:
Thank you for all that you are doing to protect the interests of the millions of American consumers who travel each year aboard our various commercial airliners. I respectfully write to ask that the Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement take action to protect consumers from being misled by carry-on luggage fees.
Recently, Allegiant Airlines decided that it would join Spirit Airlines in charging consumers a substantial fee of up to $35 for placing a bag inside of an airplane’s overhead container. According to United Continental, 87% of passengers in recent years bring bags on planes, making them ubiquitous with air travel. Consequently, for nearly all airline passengers, a carry-on bag fee would effectively represent an increase in the cost of the flight.
While it is the airline’s prerogative to decide how much to charge its consumers for a flight, my concern is that consumers not be misled into paying more for a flight than they otherwise would have paid had they known the total cost of that flight upfront. In this regard, I commend you for your recent regulations requiring airlines and ticket agents to include all mandatory taxes and fees in published airfares and requiring that they disclose baggage fees to consumers buying tickets.
These regulations, however, should be tweaked in order to prevent consumers from being deceived by carry-on baggage fees. Current regulations only require airlines publishing a fare quotation for a specific itinerary to indicate that there may be additional baggage fees, and inform consumers where they can go to see these fees. Because bringing a carry-on bag is effectively a compulsory part of flying, I believe DOT’s regulations should be changed to require airlines and ticket agents to inform passengers of the price of a carry-on item on the first screen which offers a fare quotation, and to show that additional airline fees for checked baggage may apply and where consumers can go to see these baggage fees. This change will allow customers to make “apples-to-apples” determinations as to which airline will ultimately provide the lowest cost of travel for a particular flight.
I thank you for your attention to this important matter, and am eager to work with you to ensure that the federal government is doing everything it can to protect the travelling public.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator