Small part of FAA Reauthorization Act would get rid of upfront airfare pricing including taxes, fees

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Friday, August 11, 2023
Why airfare prices may not show you taxes and fees soon
When the U.S. House passed the FAA Reauthorization Act, they included a provision that gets rid of upfront airfare pricing including taxes and fees.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- When you book a flight right now, you see the full price upfront with all of the taxes and so-called junk fees added in. But that could change.

Currently, the first price you see online when booking a flight includes taxes, airport fees, security fees, airway operations and maintenance and a list of other charges. So if the flight says $250, you'll pay $250 when you check out unless you add seating upgrades or other optional features.

Congress recently passed the FAA Reauthorization Act, which generally focuses on airline safety, but one small part of that bill would also roll back a law that has been on the books for more than a decade: the upfront pricing law. This means you will no longer see the full price of a ticket until the end of your transaction.

"I'm not happy about that," said traveler Laurie Sneed. "You see something, you see a price and that's what you expect to pay at the end and not all these added on fees that you didn't expect to pay in the beginning when you first saw your price.''

Ninth District U.S Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.

"It is bait and switch, and you know the ticket price in the beginning may be high to begin with. And you add significantly to the cost, it makes it prohibitive for some people," she said.

Schakowsky and other Democrats proposed an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization Act bill, in hopes of keeping upfront pricing. The amendment was rejected. The bill passed and is now in the hands of the Senate.

"I am hoping and I'm expecting that we're going to be able to maintain what has been the history," Schakowsky saod. "You know, Joe Biden, the president has talked about transparency in taxation, transparency in ticket costs, transparency in airline costs and so I'm hoping that we'll have the support, I know we'll have the support of the administration to make sure that there's clarity for consumers."

The I-Team reached out to Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Republican Congressman Sam Graves, one lawmaker who helped introduced the legislation. He didn't get back to us. We did hear back from Airlines for America, the group that represents the airline industry.

Airlines for America said, "Currently, nearly every consumer product is advertised without federal taxes included."

Airlines for America then said that not advertising the full price up front would actually "provide clarity on the actual cost of a ticket versus the numerous government taxes and fees that are added."

The group explained that many of the added fees are government-imposed taxes which totaled $20 billion in 2022.

"The government should not be able to hide its mandated fees as the base cost of airfare," Airlines for America said.

"That's not right," said Schakowsky. "You want to know from day one, from minute one what that cost is."

Schakowsky said she's looking out for the best interest of air travelers.

"A lot of families, the difference between what the ticket price is presented as and the final price, it can be up to 50%, 30% whatever, more money that some people can't do," she said.

According to U.S. Consumer Price Index data, airfare prices are actually down 19% versus this time in 2022. But the costs still remain a challenge for many dealing with overall inflation.

Since the FAA Reauthorization Act already passed the House, you should reach out to your U.S Senators in Illinois and Indiana if you want upfront pricing to remain a requirement.