Will new bill let airlines hide ticket prices?

At best, the proposed Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, a bipartisan bill introduced this month in Congress, would open a window into the many taxes and mandatory fees attached to your airline ticket — charges that the airline industry believes you should know about.

At worst, the proposed law would give airlines a license to quote an artificially low ticket price, undoing years of regulatory efforts to require the display of a full fare. And if the bill passes, critics fear that an airline could quote you an initial base ticket price, minus any taxes and government fees, leaving you with the mistaken impression that your total airfare is far cheaper than it is.
Continue reading…

For you, a special price: more!


Mark Hegeberg thought National would reward him with a lower price in exchange for his loyalty to the car rental company. So when he was looking for a car in Mexico, he clicked on the company’s website and volunteered his Emerald Club number.

“I checked reservations using my Emerald Club number and thought the charges were high,” remembers Hegeberg, who works for a packaged goods company in Mill Creek, Wash. A one-week, full-size rental in Los Cabos during August came to $246 with his membership, he says.

“Then I checked rentals without using my Emerald number and found them to be significantly less,” he says. The site returned a rate of $126 for the week — almost half the amount.

“Quite a difference,” says Hegeberg.

What’s going on?
Continue reading…

Are airline fees being fairly disclosed?

Air travel is full of surprises, some good, many not.

Steven Allen says he got a bad one recently when he called to change a United Airlines ticket from San Francisco to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. To move his return date from Oct. 25 to Oct. 27, the airline wanted him to pay another $300, nearly half the $686 airfare.
Continue reading…

Weekend survey: When should an airline or travel agent show the “all-in” price?

When should an airline or travel agent show the “all-in” price, particularly when it comes to fees that used to be part of the ticket?

(Update: This survey is closed. Here are the results.)

As you know a debate is going on in Washington between the airline industry and a group of consumer advocates, travel agents and corporate interests. One side is trying to make the booking process as opaque and confusing as possible. The other is demanding transparency.

Congress will have to decide who is right. In the meantime, you can weigh in on this issue.

Please send me your thoughts or post them in the comments. I’ll have the results early next week.

No cheapo hotel: fees double price of “discounted” hotel room

If this isn’t a bait-and-switch, I don’t know what is. Jonathan Yarmis thought he was getting a $375 a night room rate at the Hotel Bauer in Venice, marked down from $537.

But the Web site offering the deal,, wasn’t telling the whole story. It waited until the end — the final booking screen — to reveal the true price.


Yarmis isn’t happy.

Talk about hidden fees! The fees are more than the cost of the room.

I thought I’d call Cheapo just to see what’s going on. After over 45 minutes on hold, they dropped the call.

Shouldn’t this kind of pricing be illegal?