A new bill called the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 was recently introduced in the House, stirring much debate among airlines and consumer advocacy groups. Put simply, the law would allow airlines to list pretax prices rather than the total price including taxes and fees—making fares appear much lower than they really are (and completely undoing the 2012 law that forced airlines to be more upfront).
Trade groups and the bill’s sponsors say that airlines should abide by the same rules as restaurants and retail shops, advertising only pre-tax prices and separately disclosing other fees. As Bill Shuster (R-PA) says, “The fact that Americans are paying higher and higher government imposed taxes and fees to travel by air is being hidden from them. This common sense bill will allow consumers to see the full breakdown of their ticket costs, so they know how much they’re paying for the service, and how much they’re paying in government imposed taxes and fees.” Nick Calio, president and CEO of Airlines for America, also came out in favor of the bill in an opinion piece in USA Today.
Counter arguments say that the Transparent Airfares Act is misleading since it lets airlines advertise low base fares, only to reveal extra fees and taxes right before booking. As a recent New York Times op-ed put it, the law will “make it easier for airlines to deceive travelers about the true cost of flying.”
Stay tuned for updates on this story once the House votes on the bill.
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.