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A coalition of major US airlines have filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Transportation over a new rule requiring upfront disclosure of airline fees.

Airlines for America, representing American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, and Alaska Airlines, lodged their legal complaint in the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The group argues that the new regulations, mandating the immediate display of service fees alongside airfare, will confuse consumers and exceed the department’s authority.

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Last month, the Department of Transportation introduced these regulations to prevent consumers from being “surprised” by additional charges, stating it would help them avoid unnecessary fees. They claim this change could save travelers approximately $543 million a year, a sum currently pocketed by airlines through unanticipated fees. The regulation specifies that costs like baggage or flight change fees must be clearly disclosed on the first instance of fare and schedule information on an airline’s online platform.

The airlines argue that they already provide full fee disclosure at the point of ticket purchase and deem the new rule unnecessary and overreaching. In the lawsuit, lawyers say the new requirement is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and otherwise contrary to law.” In contrast, USDOT defends the rule as a measure to eliminate deceptive practices and ensure that advertised discounts reflect the total cost, including all mandatory fees.

The new rule also mandates that airlines must clearly inform consumers that a seat is included in the fare and no additional payment is required for a seat assignment. 

Despite the broad industry backlash, Southwest Airlines has notably abstained from joining the lawsuit, having previously expressed support for certain aspects of the USDOT’s proposal. 


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