New Jersey Senator, Robert Menendez (D) stood in Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport yesterday to announce that he would be re-introducing legislation that would ensure travelers get a clear breakdown of holiday surcharges and all add-on fees, including baggage, meals and pets.
The legislation, which Menendez termed “The Clear Airfares Act”, calls for fees, charges or surcharges to be disclosed in a straightforward transaction before customers have to input their name and credit card information. Menendez said travelers have to click through peripheral web pages and wade through often confusing text to understand whether or not their airfare includes surcharges or added fees.
“Trying to navigate through the different components in your airfare is like an airline pilot trying to land a plane in a thunderstorm without electronic instruments or a map,” he said. “It’s technically possible, but it sure isn’t easy.”
Menendez’s bill — which he will introduce this week and hopes to pass next year — would require the transaction to be “straightforward, simple and transparent.” Under Menendez’s bill, as each passenger selects from a list of options while booking online, a cost will appear for each item — the basic airfare, security tax, a holiday surcharge (if applicable), baggage, meals, pets and so on.
The principle is simple: Passengers should know what they’re paying for when they buy a ticket. It’s basic consumer protection. And, like many arriving flights at Newark Airport, it’s long overdue.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- Allegiant Air announced today it will move its low-cost service to Orlando International Airport beginning February 8, 2010. Allegiant Air had provided service from GSP to Orlando via the Orlando-Sanford International Airport. The low-fare carrier says it will offer the new service with introductory fares at $59.99 each way.
- British Airways has agreed to pay cancellation penalties and other expenses for about 2,200 consumers who responded to an erroneous offer of $40 fares between the U.S. and India. The fare, which didn’t include taxes and fees, was posted on British Airways’ Web site at about 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 2 and was removed within minutes. However, the ad remained on other online travel sites for about two hours.
- Planes belonging to Southwest Airlines and FedEx suffered minor damage when they bumped wings while on the ground in Salt Lake City. A Southwest spokesman said the airline’s jet was beginning to pull back from the gate when it was clipped by a FedEx cargo plane Sunday morning. No passengers were hurt, and they were put on another plane for the trip to Albuquerque. The plane was fixed and put back in duty.
In early October, we noted that American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and US Airways added $10 surcharges to airfare for flights on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and for Jan. 2nd and 3rd – the busiest days for holiday travel. Well, let’s now make that $20 each way! Delta, American, United, US Airways and Northwest Airlines all announced that they have boosted their surcharge on some routes.
This could have a real financial impact for those traveling with large families during the holidays. For instance, a family of five would have to add $200 to their total cost of travel. That’s not insignificant. In fact, it may be enough to keep some people at home this year.
What do you think? Are these surcharges enough to sink your travel plans? Or will you be flexible around the holidays and travel on off-peak dates?
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- Omni Hotels have launched a 72-hour sale for stays between Dec. 2 and Feb. 10, excluding New Year’s Eve. If you book by Thursday (11/5), you can get up to 40% off a room in cities such as Austin, Chicago, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Ft. Worth, San Diego, New Orleans, San Antonio, Houston & Tucson. Of course, the offer is subject to availability and can not be combined with other special offers.
- Another day, another bird strike that diverts a plane. This time it was a Delta Air Lines flight from Phoenix bound for Salt Lake City that was forced to make an early landing after it was hit by a flock of birds. Airport authorities reported that the windshield of the plane was cracked, but nobody was injured. According to FAA records, there have been 600 bird strikes nationwide this year and bird strikes cause 600 million dollars in damage to aircraft every year.
- The state of Florida is suing online travel reservation companies over hotel taxes, the latest in a string of lawsuits nationwide claiming the sites owe local authorities millions of dollars. Attorney General Bill McCollum sued Expedia and Orbitz today, claiming they failed to pay Florida the full amount of taxes collected on hotel room rentals through their sites. Consumers are charged a rate when they book a room online, and the company later reimburses the hotels a lesser amount, allowing them to pocket service fees. The taxes are paid on that less expensive rate, prompting legal action by cities and states that claim they’re being cheated out of millions of dollars in tax dollars.