USA Today: 5 trends to look for in travel this year – Passenger Protection

In an article in USA Today, reporter Nancy Trejos expects passenger protection, including a new DOT rule on airline fee transparency, to be among the biggest travel trends of 2013:

Passenger Protection

The Transportation Department has taken a more aggressive role in protecting air travelers the last four years, and it isn’t letting up.

The department’s latest proposal, which is expected early this year, could force airlines to provide common fees, such as those charged to check luggage and pick seats, to websites that compare airfares.

“With so many extra fees, consumers are getting a bit punch-drunk,” says Charlie Leocha, director of the advocacy group Consumer Travel Alliance and who’s on a department consumer advisory board.

It’s a contentious debate, because airlines prefer to sell tickets on their own sites and pay to be included in comparison sites. Nicholas Calio, president of the industry group Airlines for America, opposes the proposal, saying the “reasoning is flawed.”

It’s not clear yet what will be in the rule. But the department in December said it was actively working on the rule “that could require, among other things, that optional fees be displayed at all points of sale.”

Separately, the DOT’s Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection will continue reviewing suggestions to make air travel easier. The panel’s recommendations in October called for greater transparency in ticket pricing, simplifying contracts that accompany plane tickets and providing relief areas at airports for service animals

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