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Photograph: Courtesy Spirit Airlines

A new rule will force airlines to disclose all hidden fees before you book

Finally, some justice when we're forced to pay extra for just about everything.

Scott Snowden
Written by
Scott Snowden

'Would you like to recline your seat, madam? That'll be an extra $25. Thank you.'

'I'm sorry sir, to actually look out of the window costs extra. That's $49. Thank you.'

If this sounds familiar, then you too have had to endure freight economy class travel as we now live in a world where airlines deem it fit to charge us for just about everythingHowever, the US Department of Transportation has proposed a new rule that would allow passengers to finally get refunds for services they paid for, but didn't receive — for instance, if the in-flight Wi-Fi ain't working.

This welcome and somewhat overdue move comes as part of a new set of rules proposed by the Biden administration that would force airlines to disclose their 'surprise fees' in advance. Under the proposal, the first time an airline shows the price of a flight to potential customers, it would also have to clearly disclose fees for baggage, changes, cancellations and family seating for flights to, within, and from the United States. 

The proposal seeks to provide customers the information they need to choose the best deal, otherwise, surprise fees can add up quickly and overcome what may look at first to be a cheap fare.

'Airline passengers deserve to know the full, true cost of their flights before they buy a ticket,' said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, in a press release. 'This new proposed rule would require airlines to be transparent with customers about the fees they charge, which will help travelers make informed decisions and save money.'

In addition to the recommended rule 'to refund passengers for services they paid for that aren’t actually provided,' another proposal would require airlines to:

Provide refunds instead of flight credits for people who can't travel due to COVID-19 if the airline receives 'significant government assistance related to a pandemic'

'Proactively inform passengers that they have a right to receive a refund' when their flight is cancelled or significantly changed

Provide non-expiring flight credits when people contract COVID-19 or another illness and cannot travel

Things are finally beginning to look up for budget and economy travelers, as the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection is also currently taking action against 10 airlines for 'extreme delays in providing refunds for flights the airlines canceled or significantly changed.'

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