Controversial “junk” fees set to score airlines nearly $118 billion as the White House has continued its push to regulate the practice.
While hidden fees and ancillary costs have been conflated across disparate hospitality and entertainment industries, a nearly 8 percent uptick in collected fees compared to pre-COVID proved airlines were effectively squeezing as much out of travelers as they could.
According to a report from the Daily Mail, “Greedy airlines will make a record $118billion in add-on ‘junk’ fees this year as bosses resist the Biden administration’s attempts to stop them price gouging.”
Counted among those costs were checked baggage, select seats, insurance, Wifi and in-flight meals, all of which added up to an uptick in 7.7 percent compared to nets before lockdown.
Data from the Department of Transportation found that passengers in 2022 had spent more than $6.7 billion on baggage fees alone and that cancellation fees and flight changes had raked in around $700 million.
A review of costs by airlines conducted by NetVoucherCodes showed that Spirit Airlines flights cost travelers as much as 736% more than the advertised price when adding in the ancillary costs like checking baggage. That meant a flight promoted as $21.89 would actually come to $183.02 when totaled.
Spirit was followed by Volaris, Frontier and Sun Country Airlines at 626, 376 and 201% increases over the price of the flight.
During his 2023 State of the Union, President Joe Biden spoke to the proposed Junk Fee Prevention stating, “And we’ll prohibit airlines from charging $50 round trip for a family just to be able to sit together. Baggage fees are bad enough. Airlines can’t treat your child like a piece of baggage.”
“Americans are tired of being — we’re tired of being played for suckers. So pass — pass the Junk Fee Prevention Act so companies stop ripping us off,” he added.
Speaking with The Washington Post, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection director Samuel Levine argued, “Consumers have become fed up with these hidden fees. If a consumer is led to believe something costs $10, and it costs $20, they’ve been misled.”
The proposed rule from the agency stated, “It is an unfair and deceptive practice and a violation of this part for any Business to offer, display, or advertise an amount a consumer may pay without Clearly and Conspicuously disclosing the Total Price.”
Tuesday, the president’s social media account once again focused on the problem as Americans headed to airports for the Thanksgiving holiday and posted, “Hidden junk fees are taking real money out of the pockets of American families. Surprise banking overdraft fees, excessive credit card late fees, and hidden hotel booking fees add up. My Administration is banning junk fees to lower the cost of everyday living for Americans.”
Hidden junk fees are taking real money out of the pockets of American families.
Surprise banking overdraft fees, excessive credit card late fees, and hidden hotel booking fees add up.
My Administration is banning junk fees to lower the cost of everyday living for Americans.
— President Biden (@POTUS) November 21, 2023
The DOT is expected to issue a final rule on ancillary service fees in March 2024.
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