U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster’s proposed new Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 should really be called the Obfuscated Airfares Act of 2014. While claiming to offer consumers “better information,” the bill’s provisions would actually make matters worse. It would roll back the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) requirement that airlines post all-up prices that include fees and taxes, and again allow airlines to feature ridiculously low-ball fares with an asterisk noting, “each way based on round-trip purchase, not including fees, surcharges, and taxes.”
Proponents of the bill—clearly parroting words supplied by airline lobbyists—claim that consumers want to know how much of the airfare they pay consists of taxes and fees. Actually, Rep Shuster, they don’t. What they want to know is how much a trip will really cost, not some phony figure designed to make them think an airline is almost giving away tickets. If they really want to know the details about taxes and fees, they can easily look at the “terms and conditions” pull-down display.
This bill channels the doings of the Ministry of Truth from 1984. In Orwell’s classic novel, the Ministry of Truth was tasked with putting out lies and propaganda. Now, Rep. Shuster and his co-sponsors apparently want to allow airlines to put out lies and propaganda.
This bill represents a potential threat to your ability to obtain accurate and full airfare information. It would be a huge step back from current DOT rules, which are working quite nicely, think you. Even if you aren’t into politics much, this is one time you will want to contact your representative.
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