Today, big changes have been implemented on airfares in the US. Starting today, airfares now include taxes and fees as part of the advertised price. No longer can airlines advertise an airfare sale for one price and then add a bunch of taxes and fees to your final purchase price.
For those searching for airfares, note that the price of airfares hasn’t risen (see below). Now you just see the total price of your ticket on the front end rather than being surprised on the back end.
Full price airfare advertising for airlines
The Department of Transportation has now implemented full fare advertising for all airlines. This means all mandatory taxes and fees, including fuel surcharges must be included in the advertised price.
This means that an airfare that was advertised as $59 must now list the price as $73.40 to include all applicable taxes and fees. However, note that optional fees – like baggage fees – may still apply and are not part of the advertised airfare.
Is this good news for passengers? Absolutely! What many travelers may not have realized is that taxes and fees can be more than 50% or more of the purchase price of the airfare.
If you want to know how this works, see how taxes and fees affect airfares. The rule changes will greatly aid travelers in making decisions and saving money when they fly.
So while the rule changes ares helpful, travelers still need to know know how taxes and fees can affect airfares – even though the full price will be listed. Those extra fees and taxes can vary based on your destination, how many airports you land, and other taxes.
Now you can see what the impact taxes and fees can have on airfares without clicking all the way through to the purchase price.
The new rule changes will also include how baggage fees and other charges are disclosed as well. For a rundown on the airfare changes and other protections for travelers, read this overview from CNN.
So now that the new rules for advertised fares have been implemented, how are the airlines doing with the changes?
Are airlines really including taxes and fees in their airfares?
A quick review of airlines and online travel sites show that there are still some quirks to work out. All the airlines are in compliance (for the most part) but that doesn’t mean that what you see is what you get.
On American Airlines, technical difficulties have prevented them from including the taxes and fees as part of the prices. For now, these will be added at the end but they are working on this issue as noted on their home page.
For airfare sales that launched earlier this week before the rules were implemented, the advertised fares still reflect the price before taxes and fees. You can see the advertised airfare sales on Delta and Southwest.
The good news is that once you search for these airfares to book your travel, the taxes and fees are included in the final price. Expect the weekly airfare sales to include taxes and fees going forward. However, searching airfares for a specific date will include the taxes and fees.
So what if you book your flight on another travel site like Expedia, Orbitz, or Travelocity? For online travel sites that search for airfares, many of them have included taxes and fees in the prices of their airfares for a while – long before these new rules were implemented. However, these sites reassure those looking to book travel that they are following the rules as well (even though most already were). Here’s a look at Expedia:
Bottom line: Any airfare search on airlines or other travel sites now include taxes and fees as part of the airfare price. While American is having issues with the new rules, this will be corrected shortly. Be aware of some advertised airfare sales, as the price of the sales may not reflect the total price of the flight until a search for the airfare is done.
Airlines have increased the price of airfares in 2012
While this one of the best times of the year to find airfare deals and save on travel, the price of airfares has gone up in the last couple of weeks.
Since airfares now include taxes and fees, many may think that the price of airfares has gone up a lot. This is not the case – now we have truthful advertising about the price of airfares.
However, this doesn’t mean that airfares haven’t gone up a little.
On January 12, all US airlines implemented an airfare hike of $10 each way. The move began with Delta and airlines like American and US Airways followed. Southwest and and Frontier followed their lead.
Last year, a number of airfare increases were attempted but only a few of them stuck. Now, we’ve already seen our first airfare increase in 2012. And it’s only January.
Only a few shorts years ago, Southwest advertised one way flights at $39 (before taxes and fees). Now their airfare sales are $69 each way.
Is it possible that airlines took advantage of the DOT rules knowing that airfare prices would look like they’ve gone up? That’s possible. Since advertised prices would now include taxes and fees, why not include an airfare increase as well since airlines could hide the increase in these full fare prices.
We may not know if taxes and fees played a part of this airfare increase. However, this may not be the last one we see this year. With Spring break and summer vacations just around the corner, we could see more increases coming in the future.
For now, we will just have to enjoy truthful advertising as taxes and fees are included in the price of airfares. At least we know what we are paying to fly – for now.
Do you like the full fare advertising rules that are now in place? Will we see more airfare increases in 2012?