published Saturday, January 28th, 2012

New air fare rules draw mixed views

Air traveler Brian O'Shea, of Ooltewah, said Friday he likes new federal rules making airlines include government taxes and fees in advertised air fares, adding it will be easier to compare ticket prices.

But Chattanoogan Wayne Evans said he thinks the regulation is a way for government to hide its levies within the fares and for consumers to blame the airlines when taxes and fees go up.

"It's a manipulation to fool the consumer," he said at Chattanooga Airport. "I think it's stupid."

The U.S. Transportation Department this week mandated that air carriers now include taxes and mandatory fees in their advertised ticket prices.

In the past, airlines only were required to advertise that other charges apply, and taxes and fees usually were included in a footnote or link.

The rules are aimed at making fares easier for consumers to understand, according to The Associated Press, which estimated that taxes and fees can add up to 20 percent or more to the price of an airline ticket.

Christina Siebold, Chattanooga Airport's marketing director, said there's concern from some quarters that the rules will make air fares look more expensive.

"Fares are not necessarily increasing," she said. "They're just being reported differently."

Siebold said some airlines already are unbundling their fares, such as showing nonmandatory fees including those for luggage or seat preference. Those types of fees are not included in the new federal rules that took effect this week, but airlines are required to post them on their websites.

According to the AP, the rules regarding air fare disclosure do require government levies for such things as security and airport improvements.

Delta Airlines' website lists under taxes and fees such items as airport charges, segment fees, the Sept. 11 security fee, international taxes and fees and certain carrier-imposed surcharges on international itineraries.

Siebold said there's an education job that needs to be done for airport users.

"It's to help them understand that the airlines are doing business differently than in the past," she said.

In addition, another new rule will give customers 24 hours to cancel a reservation without penalty if it's at least a week before their flight, according to the AP.

The Associated Press contributed this story.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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