Washington, DC — The Consumer Travel Alliance calls Spirit Airlines’ new $100 fee for carry-on bags a wake -up call for DOT. When the fee for a carry-on bag can be more than three times the cost of airfare itself, advertising only the airfare is deceptive and misleading to the flying public. When ancillary fees add dramatically to the airfare itself, airlines should be required to disclose baggage and seat reservation fees upfront everywhere they sell airline tickets.
Though Spirit Airlines is, presently, alone in charging as much as $100 for a carry-on bag, a fee like this underscores the need for airlines to disclose ancillary fees in every channel where they choose to sell airline tickets. These fees are not simple convenience fees. They are spread through the entire air travel purchase process and they can add dramatically to the cost of travel.
Worse, these additional baggage fees and other fees are not disclosed to more thanhalf of airline consumers who buy tickets through travel agents or on online. This makes it impossible to easily compare prices across airlines that include baggage, seat reservation and other fees.
Charlie Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance, says, “Consumers don’t fully understand just how much these extra fees end up adding to the total cost of travel.” He adds, “Our surveys have shown that more than half of the airline travelers in the U.S. find themselves surprised by extra fees after they have purchased their airline tickets.”
When around 70 percent of those who fly only take to the skies once a year and airlines advertise lowest-possible airfares to ?game? travel Website systems, disclosing, at the very least, the basic extras — baggage and seat reservation fees —is needed for any comparative-pricing honesty.
· A US Airways flight from Washington Reagan to Boston can be purchased with an airfare of between $140-$170 on most dates with an advanced purchase. Baggage charges for two checked bags will cost $120 round-trip, adding 70 to 85 percent to the cost of travel. Adding a specialseat reservation can easily double the cost of travel.
· A Delta flight from Detroit to Ft. Lauderdale lists at only $268 for an advance-purchase ticket. In this case, the added costs for two pieces of checked baggage adds 45 percent to the cost of travel.
· An American Airlines $534 transcontinental flight from LAX to Dulles can cost 22 percent more when two pieces of luggage are added to the airfare.
· A $348 United flight between Chicago and Denver costs 34 percent more when baggage fees are calculated for two checked bags.
· When a Spirit Airlines flight for $334 from Denver to Fort Lauderdale is listed alongside a Delta flight on the same route costing $342, the deception is supremely evident. Spirit’s added fees just for a carry-on bag can add another $100 to the cost, while Delta has no charges for carry-on bags.
“Unless, a passenger is traveling with only a small purse,” notes Leocha, “they will be required to pay some sort of fee on Spirit Airlines, which makes comparing only airfares bogus.”
Because airlines refuse to disclose their fees to airline price-comparison search engines or to either online or corner travel agents, everyday consumers have no way to know that they are being deceived.
These extra fees, not included in the airfares, not only surprise leisure travelers, but they make it difficult for America’s corporations to budget effectively for travel and make it more difficult for workers who travel to be reimbursed for their extra fee expense.
For more than half-a-decade, since airlines began to charge separately for baggage and choice seat reservations, America’s leisure and business travelers have not had the opportunity to easily compare the total cost of travel across airlines. It’s time the airlines let their customers know the full cost of air travel before they purchase. That’s not too much to ask.