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March 06, 2017

After seven weeks in office, the Trump administration has scrapped an Obama-era plan that would require airlines to disclose baggage fees alongside advertised fares.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the suspension in a notice last week to “allow the president's appointees the opportunity to review and consider this action."

The proposal, originally brought forward in October 2016, was meant to provide greater transparency in advertised airfare while promoting “competition in the airline industry” and ensuring that “passengers are treated fairly by the airline industry.”

The proposal was going to remain open for a period of public commenting until March 20. It has now been shelved, alongside a second comment process for a proposal that would have required airlines to share offers with third-party comparison sites.

Airlines for America—an industry trade group that represents JetBlue, Southwest, United and American airlines (among others)—applauded the action, saying that it is “a common sense measure reinforcing that the airline industry is capable of making the decisions that best serve our customers, our employees and the communities we serve.”

However booking sites are not happy about the suspension. “Airlines are inhibiting transparency at the expense of consumers,” Steve Shur, president of the Travel Technology Association, which represents booking sites like Expedia and Priceline, told Buzzfeed News. “Four carriers currently control over 80 percent of domestic seat capacity. The DOT needs to work to ensure a competitive air travel marketplace, where airlines compete on price, service, ancillaries and more.”

The action falls in line with the Trump administration’s goals of reducing government regulations. In January, the administration issued an executive order that stated, “Unless prohibited by law, whenever an executive department or agency publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed.”

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