Jan. 24: Airlines Required to Include Taxes, Fees in Advertised Fares

Beginning Jan. 24, U.S. airlines will be required to include all government taxes and fees in advertised airfares, The New York Times reported last week.

According to the paper, the U.S. Department of Transportation has allowed airlines and travel agencies to list government-imposed fees separately for the last 25 years, resulting in "a paragraph of fine print disclaimers about charges that can add 20 percent or more to a ticket's price." In the age of digital advertising, however — which has airlines promoting "discounted" fares on Facebook and Twitter, and charging extra fees for services that used to be part of the ticket price — the government has changed its tune.

Going forward, advertised fares will not include baggage fees, which are optional, but will incorporate such fees as the 7.5 percent excise tax that the U.S. government collects on all domestic tickets, the $3.70 federal charge on each flight segment, and the $16.30 tax on each international arrival and departure.

"Requiring all mandatory charges to be included in a single advertised price will help consumers compare airfares and make it easier for them to determine the full cost of their trip," Transportation Department spokesperson Bill Mosley told The New York Times.

U.S. airlines oppose the rule change, and several — including Spirit, Allegiant and Southwest — have filed a lawsuit asking the courts to block it, citing free speech privileges.

"We think it's unnecessary and violates the First Amendment," David Berg, general counsel for Airlines for America — the trade group representing U.S. airlines — told The New York Times, although Airlines for America (formerly the Air Transport Association) did not join the lawsuit. "The D.O.T. simply has not been able to justify that the current advertising is misleading in any way to support a restriction on free speech."