Schumer: Restore bag-fee disclosure rules


Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday called on the Trump administration to restore an Obama-era proposal that would have required airlines to post checked baggage fees at the start of a ticket purchase.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it was dropping a pair of proposed policies that would have forced airline carriers to notify consumers of baggage fees earlier in the purchasing process and would have required companies to disclose how much they have profited annually from additional service fees such as purchasing extra leg room or the right to board earlier.

In a statement posted online last week, the Department of Transportation said it was withdrawing the proposed regulations because they were “of limited public benefit.”

Schumer, speaking at a news conference in midtown Manhattan, accused President Donald Trump of siding with corporations over consumers by refusing to implement the pair of policies.

“Donald Trump campaigned that he was on the side of the average guy; then why does his administration keep letting the big boys win? This is a classic example,” said Schumer, the Senate Minority leader. “Airlines should have to post the fees upfront so that you can make an informed decision before you buy the ticket.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Schumer, echoing arguments made by several consumer protection groups, said airlines should be required to post baggage fees at the start of the purchasing process so that customers can effectively compare costs when shopping. He noted that some airlines may offer lower fares, but offset those savings by charging higher checked baggage fees and other costs that are not revealed to customers until several steps into the purchasing process.

“Without upfront fee disclosure airlines could siphon even more from consumers’ pockets by actually raising bag fees, or at the very least hiding them in the fine print,” Schumer said.

Charles Leocha, chairman of Travelers United, a consumer rights group, said consumer protection groups and travelers’ rights groups have been pushing for the fee disclosure proposal for more than five years, believing it will lead to more “transparent pricing.”

“Without clear, public data available to travel agents and on the internet, travelers find it impossible to effectively comparison shop,” Leocha said in a statement. “By withholding this information from normal airline ticket sales channels, the airlines are misleading consumers about the true cost of travel.”

 

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