While we're reforming the troubled U.S. Federal Aviation Administration - pace my previous post - why not make the FAA make U.S. carriers list their added fees in a transparent, easy-to-understand way?
That's what the Business Travel Coalition (www.businesstravelcoalition.com) and the American Society of Travel Agents (www.asta.com) are asking Congress to do in Senate and House bills to reauthorize and refund the FAA (www.faa.gov).
Airlines maintain that they list ancilliary taxes and fees - everything from securing an exit-row seat to paying for a second checked bag - on their Web sites. But consumer groups counter that actually finding the information amidst the tangle of data in a fast and easy way is, well, neither fast nor easy.
Airlines, especially U.S. carriers, have come to rely on ancilliary fees in recent years for raising revenue in a tough business environment in which travelers resist fare hikes. Fair enough. Airlines have to make money to stay in business and keep flying. But if we as air travelers are going to have to navigate through the assorted "bespoke'' services offered for extra money - and pay for extras like government passenger taxes, carbon-offset fees and airline fuel surcharges - it would be customer-friendly to post those fees and taxes clearly and prominently. That way - as the BTC and ASTA rightly argue - passengers and corporate travel buyers would have a clear idea of the total cost of their bookings.
Sounds fair. Should do.