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New Bill Lets Airlines Display Deceiving Fares


Score two for the airlines, nil for consumers.

Two amendments passing through the U.S. House of Representatives last week will hurt the average American air traveler: one lets airlines display fictitious low-ball fares, while the second rejects standardizing aircraft seat pitch.

  • The House accepted an amendment from Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R, FL) that brings the anti-consumer Transparent Airfares Act proposal back to life. That’s the provision that would allow airlines to omit taxes and fees from their advertised prices and first-screen fare postings.
  • It also rejected an amendment from Congressman Steve Cohen (D, TN) that would potentially require the FAA to set minimum standards of airline seat spacing. The purpose was to assure that airline passengers could (1) safely exit a survivable crash in an airplane with the tightest allowable seating within the requisite 90-minute interval, and (2) avoid the increased risks of deep vein thrombosis resulting from being forced to sit in undersized seats for extended periods of time.

Consumer advocates who opposed the first and supported the second have moved their efforts to the Senate. At this point, the overall outcome is unclear but events to date underscore the power of the airline lobby to bypass important consumer concerns. We will keep you in the loop of upcoming developments.

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Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuses every day at SmarterTravel.

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