Whitehouse: Make airlines limit ‘ridiculous’ fees

Call 12 For Action

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – When you fly, the fees can add up quickly.

Depending on which airline you’re on, or which type of ticket you purchase, you may encounter baggage fees, carry-on fees, fees to choose your seat, and fees to cancel or make changes to your ticket.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse wants to make airlines limit those costs to make them proportional to the actual service paid for by consumers, which is why he’s co-sponsoring legislation called the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act.

“The airlines have seen this as a new opportunity to raise revenue off of passengers and we want to make sure that they do it fairly,” Whitehouse said. “A decade ago, the airlines earned maybe a billion dollars in fees. Last year, $35 billion.”

Whitehouse is referring to an IdeaWorks survey, which evaluated “ancillary fees” generated by the top ten airlines.

“Whatever the portion is of the cost of an excess bag or of changing your seat or of rescheduling your flight, it’s fine, but it shouldn’t be an opportunity for the airlines to gouge,” Whitehouse said.

His proposed law has failed to pass in previous years.

Airlines for America, a trade group representing multiple domestic carriers, opposes Whitehouse’s legislation, claiming airfares are at historic lows after adjusting for inflation.

“The FAIR Fees Act threatens to roll back more than 40 years of progress, innovation and affordability for consumers,” said Katherine Estep, a spokesperson for Airlines for America. “Travelers don’t need Washington interfering with the affordability and accessibility of visiting friends, family and colleagues across the country and around the globe.”

Several groups including the National Consumers League and Consumer Reports support the proposed law.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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