US airlines sue DOT, push back on fee disclosure rule

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Several major U.S. airlines are suing the federal government in an attempt to thwart new regulations mandating them to disclose all fees, including for things like checked bags or cancellations. 

The group of carriers, including Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, United and trade group Airlines For America, claim in the lawsuit that the Department of Transportation (DOT) overstepped its authority with the collection of new rules announced late last month. They called the rules “arbitrary, capricious” and “an abuse of discretion.” 

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced on April 24 two rules that will deliver automatic cash refunds to airline passengers and protect consumers from surprise airline junk fees.   

BIDEN ADMIN’S NEW AIRLINE RULES TO REQUIRE CASH REFUNDS FOR CANCELED FLIGHTS, FEES DISCLOSED UP FRONT

The federal lawsuit is specifically referring to the rule requiring airlines to show costs for things like a checked bag, carry-on bag, change fees and cancellation fees up front, so travelers have all the information they “need to decide what travel option is best,” Buttigieg said when announcing the rules. 

Airlines for America, which represents JetBlue, Southwest, United, Delta, Hawaiian, American and Alaska, told FOX Business that airlines already disclose all fees associated with air travel before a consumer purchases a ticket and that the federal government’s “attempt to regulate private business operations in a thriving marketplace is beyond its authority.” 

TOP AIRLINES RAKE IN $33B FROM BAG FEES

The group also said that the “the ancillary fee rule by the Department of Transportation will greatly confuse consumers who will be inundated with information that will only serve to complicate the buying process.” 

Chicago O'Hare Airport passengers arrive for flights

However, the DOT previously estimated that the change will collectively save Americans over a half billion dollars every year. It also made it clear that it’s not backing down from fighting “hidden junk fees.”

“We will vigorously defend our rule protecting people from hidden junk fees and ensuring travelers can see the full price of a flight before they purchase a ticket,” DOT spokesperson Sean Manning told FOX Business. 

When Buttigieg first announced the rules, he argued that “healthy competition requires that as a consumer you can comparison shop, which means knowing the real price of a trip before and not after you buy.”

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