Why The Return of $1 Airfares Isn’t Good News

July 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The old adage, “If something’s too good to be true, it probably is,” serves as a general warning to most people. So does “Buyer beware.” Basically, we’re urged to thoroughly investigate a deal that seems impossibly beneficial to our wallets.

US Capitol Building - These sayings could be tested in a whole new way if a bill before Congress becomes law.

In the ongoing saga to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, something Congress must do every few years, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has approved an attachment to the reauthorization bill that would deregulate a policy the airlines have long opposed and despised. The attachment would essentially give airlines the freedom to not advertise the taxes and fees associated with certain airfares — something they only recently started doing a few years ago.

This would allow them to return to their practice of promoting as “low cost” or “free” tickets that are anything but.

Before 2012, airlines were free to advertise incredibly cheap tickets without disclosing the non-optional taxes and ticket fees that would be added at the time of purchase. This made unsuspecting consumers vulnerable, and the Department of Transportation ruled in favor of transparency in advertising in 2012, abolishing such practices.

Today, travelers searching for fares must be made aware of the taxes associated with any fare, which Airlines for America estimates adds approximately 20 percent to the average ticket price. If the new attachment somehow becomes law, airlines would again be able to hide the true cost of their tickets from potential travelers in their advertising campaigns.

The airlines’ argument is that Congress, with the 2012 law, singled out one industry and made it share the taxes as part of its advertising when other industries and products didn’t have to do this. In 2013, Spirit Airlines protested the law all the way to the Supreme Court, and after losing its case, added a tax to every ticket, titling the fee, “unintended consequences of DOT regulation.”

Keep an eye on this issue as you consider ticket prices in the coming months. There won’t be any advertising campaign alerting you to the change in policy if the 2012 rule is overturned.

What are your thoughts on this? Should we keep the law the way it is, or go back to pre-2012 rules? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

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