Airline bid to block consumer protections rejected

The price you see is the price you pay.

That was the ruling of a U.S. appeals court, which upheld a federal rule that requires airlines to advertise the full price passengers pay for airline tickets.

As of January, the federal rule required airlines operating in the U.S. to prominently display the full ticket price, including taxes and fees, such as fuel surcharges.

Under the rule, airlines can display a base price, separate from fees and taxes but that fare must be shown less prominently and in smaller print. Taxes and fees can raise the base fare 20% or more.

The rule was challenged by Southwest, Allegiant and Spirit airlines. The airlines claimed in court records that the federal government has no proof that the practice of advertising base fares and the fees and taxes separately is "unfair or deceptive conduct."

The airlines also described the new rule as "arbitrary and capricious" because the practice of advertising fees and taxes separately has been used for years by "virtually every other industry in the United States," according to court records.

In its ruling Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit also upheld a requirement that customers can cancel tickets without penalty within 24 hours of purchase, if they booked more than a week in advance, and a prohibition against raising costs like baggage fees after a customer has bought tickets.


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