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Honest Airfares? Don’t Hold Your Breath

Last Friday, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a notice that initially, it would not strictly enforce some of the airline passenger protections slated originally to become effective on January 24. The selective enforcement period will allow the airlines, online travel agencies, and global distribution systems additional time to untangle their technological thicket enough to provide full compliance.

The final rules require (1) that carriers include bag allowance and fee information for a carry-on bag and the first and second checked bag in text form on e-ticket confirmations, and (2) that the same baggage allowances and fees that apply at the beginning of a passenger’s itinerary apply throughout the entire itinerary if the journey originates or ends in the U.S. The enforcement relaxation applies to pricing of checked and carry-on baggage on interline itineraries, codeshare itineraries involving international flights, and domestic flights of different mainline carriers.

All in all, in the ongoing war between airlines and consumers, this is a small skirmish, not a major battle. Nevertheless, the DOT is under continuous pressure to ease off of its “full fare” advertising and notification principles, and the war isn’t completely over. Meanwhile, however, you should see some improvements in fare advertising come January 24.

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