A Closer Look: Hidden Airline Fees No Myth
May 28th, 2013

Speaking about fees on a recent analysts call, Spirit Airline’s Executive VP Barry Biffle commented there’s still “a lot of misinformation that’s been put out in the marketplace, suggesting, for example, that airlines have hidden fees and so forth. And that’s simply not true. And I think we’ve debunked a lot of those myths.”

Contrary to Mr. Biffle’s claim, hidden airline fees are no myth and are still the norm for the majority of travelers. The reason is that more than 50% of consumers purchase their travel today through online travel agencies like Expedia and Orbitz, or via travel agents, all of whom utilize global distribution systems (GDSs), the underlying technology which allows for efficient comparison shopping across hundreds of airlines with a mouse click or a phone call.

Unfortunately, since unbundling (charging fees for core services like checked bags and seat selection that were previously included in base airfares), the airlines have refused to share ancillary fee information with GDSs in a dynamic and purchasable format. As a result, when consumers utilize an online travel site or call their travel agent, they are not getting the true all-in cost of their travel. So rather than having everything – base fares, fees, and taxes – all presented in one easy to compare format, consumers are forced to engage in a time consuming dance among multiple websites to understand what fees they may have to pay for any given itinerary.

To address these hidden airline fees, Open Allies is calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation to adopt, this year, a pro-consumer rule requiring airlines to share fee information in all the channels through which they sell base airfares. That means sharing fee information in a simple to use and purchasable format with online travel sites and travel agents.

Let your voice be heard. Sign our This Is Your Passenger Speaking petition and join your fellow passengers on Twitter and Facebook to speak up even louder. You can tweet your frustrating hidden airline fee stories on Twitter using #passengerspeaking, or share your story on our Facebook page.