Following President Joe Biden using the State of the Union to declare that “Americans are tired of being played for suckers” when it comes to junk fees, Rep. Josh Gottheimer is getting ready to do something about it when it comes to the airline industry.
Standing inside Newark International Airport on Feb. 27, Gottheimer announced new steps to put an end to travelers being “whacked” with hidden airline fees when booking tickets.
Gottheimer said his Clear and Simple Airline Agenda aims to eliminate surprise costs—”stacks of hidden fees that kill your wallet”—and prevent families from having to read endless pages of small type legalese and fare rules and fees that come with their plane ticket.
“It’s time for true transparency in a clean and simple way for families…to know the true cost of a flight, from bags to seats to what happens to their tickets if they have to make a change,” he said. “Right now, and I hear about this far too often from constituents, it’s as if the airlines are looking for ways to nickel and dime you, and make the tickets and the fare rules even more confusing.”
“We need to make sure airlines are doing everything they can to be clear and simple when communicating with consumers about all taxes and airport fees,” stated the Congressman.
Gottheimer’s proposal comes after President Biden’s joint address to Congress Feb. 7 that took aim at so called junk fees, additional charges that touch everything from credit cards to concert and airline tickets.
“Junk fees may not matter to the very wealthy, but they matter to most folks in homes like the one I grew up in. They add up to hundreds of dollars a month,” Biden said in his speech. “I know how unfair it feels when a company overcharges you and gets away with it. Not anymore.”
Biden urged Congress to pass a new “Junk Fee Prevention Act,” which his administration proposed on Feb. 1, focused on curtailing extra fees in four areas:
- Ban airline fees for family members to sit with young children;
- Block surprise resort and destination fees.
- Get rid of “excessive” online concert, sporting event, and other entertainment ticket fees; and
- Outlaw “exorbitant” early termination fees for TV, phone, and internet service.
Gottheimer is calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to require all commercial airlines to have a new “Airline Transparency Box” to display all taxes, seat, baggage, and airport fees, as well as cancellation and change fees all on the same page when fare options appear on a website or app—not at the very end.
The box, which the North Jersey lawmaker compared to the “Schumer Box” that summarizes the costs and fees for credit cards, would be broken down into two section—general fees in the top table, and cancellation rules and fees by ticket class in the bottom table.
“Travel agents are a thing of the past for most, so now it feels like you need to hire a lawyer just to feel safe about buying plane tickets for a family,” he said. “We’ve all seen the thousand-word fine print of terms and conditions — checking off boxes to verify that you’ve read what seems like hundreds of pages.”
Eliminating Surprise Costs
“Those (fees) often get left out and come out of nowhere on the ticket price until right before you hit the buy button,” Gottheimer said.
Additionally, the Democratic Congressman is urging the USDOT for the swift finalization and implementation of a rule requiring airlines and online booking services to show the full price of a plane ticket up front, including baggage fees, change fees, cancellation fees, and other hidden charges.
“More transparency when purchasing airfare will help protect families and consumers from surprise charges — making it crystal clear what their purchase means, so they know exactly what they’re getting in return for their hard-earned dollars,” he stated. “And it will help protect the airlines from very frustrated customers who feel ripped off and surprised.”
Gottheimer doesn’t know anything about the airline industry. The government has no right authority to intervene in the way the airline industry prices its tickets.
Fees and charges are not hidden. The airlines itemize everything. Gottheimer is just doing this for attention
He should stay out of the business of the airlines and let them do what they do best
YO! JOSH; Why not have everything be included in one Price!! AND; I’m tired of going to the store and seeing one price, then when I go to Pay I see another & that’s deceiving, cause the Tax $ wasn’t included!! JOSH, let’s Include taxes into Price’s, so’s the Price You SEE, Is the Price You PAY; No Surprise’s & No-Fraud’s!!//