GOP lawmakers wants DOT to ground airline price rules

ADVERTISEMENT
"If the American people can’t see these costs clearly, I fear it will be easier [for] these fees and taxes to be raised without their knowledge,” he said.

Airline companies — most notably Spirit Airlines — have argued that the new rules force them to "hide" government fees in fares they quote to customers.

Graves said he Monday he would introduce a bill called the "Travel Transparency Act" to prevent that from happening. 

“If the goal of the DOT’s rule is to prevent companies from deceiving passengers about the total cost of their ticket, why is the department mandating that airlines hide the taxes, surcharges, and government fees in the fine print," he said.

"Transparency and honesty in ticket pricing should apply across the board — no matter if the cost charged to Americans is in the form of airfare, taxes, or government fees," Graves continued.  "Let’s list the various charges, line by line.  What’s wrong with letting the flying public know where their money is going? 

"Making these taxes and fees invisible or hard to find will no doubt increase advertised airfare prices and decrease transparency," he said. "And, the taxpayers will be left holding the bag.”

The Washington-based trade association for airlines said it supported Graves' legislation.

"Federal taxes and fees now constitute $61, or over 20 percent, of the cost of a typical $300 domestic round-trip ticket, putting aviation at a higher tax rate than alcohol, beer, cigarettes and firearms," Airlines for America communications vice president Steve Lott said in a statement provided to The Hill.

"We support this effort to require DOT to return to its previous regulation, which does not artificially distort the base price of an airline ticket, and ensures that customers always know exactly how much they are paying in federal aviation taxes and fees before they decide to purchase," Lott said.

Spirit, Southwest and Allegiant airlines have filed a lawsuit challenging the DOT rules. Spirit and AirTran Airways, which is owned by Southwest, were recently fined a combined $90,000 for violating the pricing rules in advertisements such as emails, tweets and on their websites.