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Airlines’ bid to cheat consumers is foiled

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has rejected a bid by the major airlines to relax advertising rules related to the pricing of airline tickets.

Under the proposed changes, airlines would have had the legal discretion to essentially hide (in the fine print) the airline-imposed “fuel surcharges” that were all the rage during the busy summer travel season. Fortunately, says Michael Reynolds, the DOT’s acting assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs, “The department decided that including the costs in fares protects consumers and fosters price comparison and fare competition.”

Gee, you think?

Not that the news is all good. The DOT already ignores some of its own rules on advertising, as noted in this brief from the DOT’s own website: “As a matter of prosecutorial discretion, the Department does not take enforcement action against any advertisement that omits [certain taxes, fees, and other charges that are imposed by a government entity] from the quoted fare.”

So in summary: We appear to have avoided any further erosion of consumer protections, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the DOT to enforce the rest of its own rules.

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