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Schumer seeks restoration of baggage-fee disclosure plan

A pair of proposed policies would have forced carriers to notify consumers of baggage fees earlier in the purchasing process.

Sen. Chuck Schumer holds a news conference Sunday,

Sen. Chuck Schumer holds a news conference Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Manhattan. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on the Trump administration Sunday to restore an Obama-era proposal that would have required airlines to post checked baggage fees at the start of a ticket purchase.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it was dropping a pair of proposed policies that would have required air carriers to notify consumers of baggage fees earlier in the purchasing process and to disclose how much they have profited annually from additional service fees, such as the purchase of extra leg room or the right to board earlier. In a statement posted online, the department said it was withdrawing the proposed regulations because they were “of limited public benefit.”

Schumer, speaking at a news conference in midtown Manhattan, accused President Donald Trump of siding with corporations over consumers by refusing to implement the policies. 

“Donald Trump campaigned that he was on the side of the average guy; then why does his administration keep letting the big boys win? This is a classic example,” said Schumer (D-N.Y.). “Airlines should have to post the fees upfront so that you can make an informed decision before you buy the ticket.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Schumer, echoing arguments made by several consumer protection groups, said airlines should be required to post baggage fees at the start of the purchasing process so that customers can effectively compare costs. He noted that some airlines may offer lower fares, but offset those savings by charging higher checked baggage fees and other costs that are not revealed to customers until several steps into the purchasing process.

“Without upfront fee disclosure, airlines could siphon even more from consumers’ pockets by actually raising bag fees, or at the very least hiding them in the fine print,” Schumer said. 

Charles Leocha, chairman of Travelers United, a consumer rights group, said consumer protection groups and travelers’ rights groups have been pushing for the fee disclosure proposal for more than five years, believing it would lead to more “transparent pricing.”

“Without clear, public data available to travel agents and on the internet, travelers find it impossible to effectively comparison-shop,” Leocha said in a statement. “By withholding this information from normal airline ticket sales channels, the airlines are misleading consumers about the true cost of travel.”

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