Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

May 16, 2014

Airline fees issue protects government -- not us

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — I side with the airline industry. 

That’s a phrase that you probably won’t hear many people say. And frankly, it’s not one that I say often. But in this case, it’s hard for me not to.

Airlines in the United States currently live under a rule which forces them to advertise their rates as the final price that passengers pay. If your credit card is going to be charged $396.14, that’s what they have to publish on their websites as the rate for the airfare.

That sounds perfect, right? As a consumer, you want to know what something is going to cost you up front — before your start to book a flight. Common sense.

Well, the airlines are fighting this rule. I’m with them and here’s why: Common sense or not, it is unfair to the airline industry. It forces them to live by rules that almost no other industry lives by.

If you buy a household goods or groceries, you know that there are taxes added on. The price on the sticker is not what you end up paying. If you shop online, you have to add shipping. That’s not indicated on the “sticker” price. Buying a house? It’s listed at a price, but that’s before closing costs, lawyers fees, bank fees, you name it. The price of a car in an advertisement doesn’t include registration, delivery fees, etc.

So what’s so special about airlines? What’s special about it is that the fees the government wants them to include as their “cost” are mostly government fees — taxes, regulatory charges, safety costs, etc. The government isn’t interested in protecting the consumers. They’re interested in protecting themselves. They don’t want consumers to know how much of their airfare actually goes to Uncle Sam.

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