As Summer Vacation Season Arrives, Senators Markey and Blumenthal Introduce Legislation to Ground Rising Airline Fees

Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act would protect consumers by limiting fees for checked bags, ticket changes and cancellations

Washington (May 4, 2017) – As airlines continue to charge consumers sky-high fees for basic services such as checking a bag and changing or canceling a flight, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today introduced the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act, legislation that prohibits airlines from imposing fees, including cancellation, change and bag fees, that are not reasonable and proportional to the costs of the services provided. The legislation also directs the Department of Transportation to review any other fees charged by airlines. In 2016, airlines reaped in $4.2 billion in baggage fees and $2.9 billion in change and cancellation fees.

“Airlines fees are climbing as high as the planes passengers are traveling on, and it’s time to stop their rapid ascent,” said Senator Markey. “Airlines should not be allowed to overcharge captive passengers just because they need to change their flight or have to check a couple of bags. Passengers are getting tipped upside down at the airline counter, and they deserve relief from these excessive fees. The FAIR Fees Act puts a stop to fee gouging and will help ensure passengers are flying the fair and financially-friendly skies.”

 

“This commonsense measure will ground runaway charges that hurt passengers’ wallets while padding airlines’ profits,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Whether they want to check a bag, reserve a seat, or simply sit with their young child, travelers should not have to pay exorbitant, unnecessary fees at the whim of the airlines. The FAIR Fees Act would help rein in outrageous fees and stop airlines from nickel and diming consumers for basic services.”

 

A copy of the FAIR Fees Act can he found HERE.

 

Under the FAIR Fees Act, for bag fees, airlines will only be authorized to charge fees that cover the costs of the baggage handlers, ticket agents, the baggage processing or anything that reasonably pertains to checking a bag. For example, American Airlines, Delta, and United charge more money for the second checked bag than the first, yet there appears to be no appreciable cost increase for processing the second bag. For change/cancellation fees, airlines will be authorized to charge fees that cover the cost of processing the new tickets and any potential loss of revenue due to the cancelation, noting that any loss of revenue may be minimal or even zero because the airline can resell the seat for a potentially higher fare.

 

“The FAIR Fees Act, which has received bipartisan support, addresses the out-of-control increase in add-on fees,” said National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “These fees are a primary driver of record airline profits and a major pain point for consumers. Getting a handle on these outrageous charges is critically important for promoting competition in an industry that has become increasingly consolidated.”

“Add-on airline fees should be transparent and fair,” said Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy at Consumer Federation of America. “Passengers shouldn’t be gouged when they need to change their plans or can’t fit their baggage into ever-shrinking overhead space.”