Skift Take

The White House first raised concerns that airlines and hotels weren't properly disclosing all its fees upfront. Now it's going a step further with the President calling on the industries to strip those fees.

So-called junk fees that drain American travelers’ pockets need to end, said President Joe Biden on Wednesday who again called out companies building business models on “frustrating charges” that are often not disclosed.

The president’s competition committee now wants certain flights, hotels and tickets charges banned in the latest crackdown on consumer protection, transparency and fairness.

The calls follow a series of U.S. Transportation Department warnings, designed to boost consumer protection. In September last year it issued policy for airlines to disclose fees for baggage, ticket changes and family seating the first time an airfare is displayed.

Seating Fee Ban Fast-Track 

Congress is being called on to fast-track a ban on airline fees for families, allowing children 13 years or younger to sit with their parents.

Parents should not find themselves unexpectedly seated away from their young child on a flight, and paying a large fee to sit together is wrong, stated the Biden Administration.

According to Airlines for America, a trade group representing the largest U.S. carriers, American, United, Delta and Southwest, its members don’t charge family-seating fees. However, budget carriers are known to do this.

U.S. lawmakers are also calling for air passenger refunds as part of a proposed Passenger Protection Bill, which gives passengers a right to sue airlines for unfair practices, following a series of disruptions within the industry towards the end of 2022.

Surprise Resort Fees

Resort fees, sometimes as high as $50 a night and only charged when consumers check out, are also in the line of fire. They need to be disclosed in the price, according to the Biden Administration, who stated more than one-third of hotel guests report having paid such fees, as industry data showed this amounted to billions in collected fees and surcharges in 2018. 

Price comparison is crucial for the consumer, as travelers should know which hotels charge these fees and which do not so they can plan and budget accordingly.

Excessive service charges on tickets for concerts and sporting events are also being weighed, as are late payment credit card fees, currently set higher than the cost to process the late payment itself.  


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Tags: airlines, hotels, politics, resort fees, tourism

Photo credit: U.S. lawmakers are also calling for a range of reforms. Alex Proimos / WikiMedia Commons

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