Victory for Airline Lobby expands airline exemption from consumer protection law

WASHINGTON DC – December 8, 2017 The US Department of Transportation (DOT) announced today that it was withdrawing a pending rulemaking requiring airlines to disclose fees for baggage and other so called extra services to online travel booking sites, making comparison price shopping more difficult for consumers. This regulatory reform, pending since 2014, was started because many airlines refuse to timely disclose their fees and sometimes even their air fares to online travel sites like Expedia or Priceline. Some like Southwest also refuse to disclose their airfares claiming proprietary information, even though its available to the general public on the airlines’ web site.

Airlines are now believed make much higher profits from baggage, change fees and other ancillary fees than from airfares. The DOT also withdrew a rulemaking to require airlines disclose profits on ancillary fees.

Paul Hudson, president of the largest airline passenger organization, noted,

“This is NOT how you make air travel great again. Airlines are already exempt from all state and local consumer protection, much antitrust law, most other federal regulations and tort law. The DOT is their sole regulator. If the DOT refuses to correct abuses or enforce existing regulations (as happened in the Dr. Dao case ), and repeals existing regulations, airlines will be the first US industry to have stripped the public of all economic protections from unfair predatory practices. Only Congress and the federal courts can now override this unfortunate DOT decision.”