Seventy-one percent of recent fliers want U.S. airlines to include extra fees for checked baggage and specific seat assignments in ticket prices, according to a poll released on Thursday by a coalition of passenger advocacy groups in Washington.
The poll comes at a time when airlines have been pushing Congress to undo federal rules that require them to include fees for things like airport security in ticket prices they advertise to potential passengers.
Airlines have argued that the regulations make airfare advertising less "transparent" because it makes it hard for passengers to determine which part of their airfares are going to the cost of flying and which part is being used to pay federal taxes.
“To protect air travel consumers, we need to fix the significant problems they face in searching, comparing, and buying ancillary fees, which have become ubiquitous in the airline industry,” Open Allies for Airfare Transparency Executive Director Andrew Weinstein said in a statement.
Weinstein his coalition's 400 members are supporting a proposal by the Department of Transportation (DOT) that would require airlines to provide information about their baggage and seat assignment fees with travel agents and websites that are popular with passengers like Orbitz.com and Expedia.com.
He added that the findings of the poll of recent airline passengers showed that more even disclosure is required to simplfiy flight purchases.
“The proposed DOT rule gets almost halfway there by requiring airlines to share their fees for baggage and seat assignments, but it fails to address the intertwined issue of how to buy those services at the time of ticket purchase," Weinstein said. "Playing peek-a-boo with prices will not address the underlying consumer harm, unless travelers can purchase those fees wherever they buy their tickets.”
Republicans in Congress have sided with the airline industry in the fight over airfare advertising. House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) has introduced a bill to undo the rules requiring airlines to include fees in their advertising of flight prices.
The measure, known as the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 (H.R 4156), has been approved by the GOP-led House, but Democrats in the Senate have offered legislation of their own to keep the rules in place.
The competing Democratic bill, dubbed the Real Transparency in Airfares Act, would not only maintain the Department of Transportation’s airline price advertising rules but would also increase the penalties for violating the rules.
Currently, the maximum penalty for not advertising full prices for flights is $27,500. The Senate bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Robert MenendezRobert MenendezCorruption trial could roil NJ Senate race Steve Mnuchin, foreclosure king, now runs your US Treasury Senate Dems move to nix Trump's deportation order MORE (D-N.J.), would invalidate the House measure to eliminate the advertising rules and increase the penalty to $55,000.
The passenger advocacy group's poll found that 55 percent of those surveyed have been surprised in recent months by extra fees when they have purchased airline tickets, according to the report.
Eighty-percent of the poll's respondents said the rules regarding airfare advertising should be expanded to include fees for ticket cancellations, flight changes and priority boarding.
The poll results were first reported Thursday by USA Today.
-This story was updated with new information at 5:54 p.m.