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The Transparent Airfares Act Of 2014

The Transparent Airfares Act of 2014
Photo credit: James Willamor / Flickr

That’s the question posed to the public by U.S. legislators in lieu of the recently proposed Transparent Airfares Act of 2014. As noted in the Act title, if passed, the legislation will return transparency to airline fares.

How?

According to the U.S. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the bill will force airlines to state both the cost of the airfare as well as any government taxes and fees associated with it to permit airline passengers full disclosure when it comes to air travel. Currently, the airfare and excess taxes and fees are all lumped together on the ticket price, so passengers are unaware just what they’re paying for exactly.

Essentially, the Act would void a regulation that has long been supported by consumer groups and airline passengers. According to The Washington Post, this “full fare advertising rule” permits airlines to quote a travel price that includes not only the base price of travel, but the excess fees associated with each ticket.

For a good example of the impact it could have on the travel industry, look no further than hotels. When you book a hotel, you’re likely quoted the per-night price. Then, of course, this amount just goes up when resort fees, taxes and other extras are thrown in. This is an example of “transparent” pricing.

Debating the Act has since turned into a bit of a he-said, she-said. Airlines, which are not in favor of the “full fare rule,” and favor this proposed Act, state that the “full fare regulation” allows the government to hide any tax increases in their ticket prices. But consumers, who are against the Act, state that, if passed, it would just permit airlines to quote low, deceptive prices, according to The Post.

Will it Pass?

When the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 was originally proposed by Bill Shuster, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman, it appeared a long shot to make it, according to an April 24 article in The Washington Post.

But now, the newspaper states that the Act has bipartisan support. So the bill, which was originally a pipe dream, now appears close to passing into law.

Pros and Cons

We already covered the main reason why legislators appear to be for this law – because the airlines are for it. If passed, they’ll be able to quote ultra low prices and then tack on all the “extras” at the end, thereby offering low initial prices and ideally selling more tickets.

However, there appear to be many more cons than pros to the Act.

For instance:

  • According to The Post, it could lead airlines to conduct a sort of legalized “bait and switch” advertising. This consists of charging a super low base price to lock in the customer and then tacking on all the extra costs and fees so that the base prices become a large cost.
  • Also according to the newspaper, the fear is that if this Act is passed into law regarding the transportation industry, then other government-regulated industries might be soon to follow with similar legislation. Gas is one example, as taxes and fees are included into the price you pay at the pump. If a similar Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 was applied to gas, stations could feasibly advertise low gas prices to lure customers, only to see them shocked when they realize that the taxes make their purchase expensive.

Obviously many more pros and cons have to be carefully weighed, before the future of this act is finally decided!

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