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Airlines Take Biden Administration to Court Over Controversial Fee Disclosure Rule

US Carriers File Lawsuit Against Transportation Department's New Fee Transparency Regulation

In a bold move, major US airlines have taken the US Transportation Department (USDOT) to court over a new rule requiring upfront disclosure of airline fees.

The lawsuit, filed in the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana, marks the latest clash between air carriers and the Biden administration. The airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and others, argue that the rule would confuse consumers and overstep the department’s authority.

The USDOT issued the final rules last month, requiring airlines and ticket agents to disclose service fees alongside airfare. The department claims this will help consumers avoid unnecessary or unexpected fees.

Biden Administration Faces Legal Challenge from Airlines Over Fee Disclosure Requirement

However, the airline group contends that the rule is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise contrary to law.” They argue that the rule would lead to consumer confusion and that the department is overreaching its authority by regulating private business operations.

The USDOT counters that the rule will protect consumers from hidden junk fees and ensure they see the full price of a flight before purchasing a ticket. According to the department, consumers are currently overpaying $543 million in fees annually, largely due to surprise fees for checked bags and flight changes.

The new rule aims to end “bait-and-switch tactics” by requiring airlines to disclose fees upfront and prohibiting promotional discounts that disguise the true cost of flights.

The lawsuit highlights the ongoing tension between the airline industry and the Biden administration, which has prioritized consumer protection and transparency in air travel.

While the airlines claim they already provide complete disclosure of fees, the USDOT argues that the rule is necessary to protect passengers from surprise fees and ensure a fair and transparent market. As the case moves forward, it will be closely watched by consumers, airlines, and regulatory agencies alike.

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