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Opening Magic Kingdom

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Airlines Have 3 Weeks to Meet Truth In Advertising Regulation

Airlines have until January 24, 2012, to advertise airfares that include all government fees and taxes.  Some airlines are already adhering to this regulation, which was part of a dozen passenger protections that the Transportation Department proposed in 2010 and adopted last spring.  Currently, airlines can advertise a low price with an asterisk or footnote with fine print indicating additional fees and taxes.

Is this why consumers are seeing and feeling an increase in airfare?  When all airlines come on board by January 24 what effect will it have on airfare prices?

Our favorite airline, AirTran, has been adhering to this regulation for some time.  I can’t tell you exactly when, but when I find an on-line price and multiply it by three, that is the cost of our airfare.  No surprises when I hit the “next” button or “submit” or “There is only one seat left at this price” messages—this one I see when checking fares for Allegiant.

Because consumers will be able to compare equally—fare to fare—with this new regulation, airfare may actually decline. . . at least for a bit.  Airlines, who already compete viciously for passengers, may feel the need to lower published fares, at least initially so that consumers don’t get sticker shock.

Fees and taxes can add on to the price of airfare.  Passengers taking flights with stops pay fees each time they land or take off at an airport.  Taking a trip outside the country?  Your return flight may cost you more due to taxes and fees for returning to the United States.  Even certain countries have special fees when you leave them via air—The Bahamas is an example of this type of fee.  Now we know why we see specials for money off flights or free companion airfare or complimentary days of stay with a certain length of package.  Flying into Nassau—not bad.  Flying out—expensive!

I’m sensing that my Kayak and Southwest Airlines apps on the iPad will require updating come January 24, as all airlines adjust to the new regulation—that they have had almost 9 months to get ready for.  They are down to 3 weeks!

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