U.S. consumers may well remember the days, pre-2012, when shopping for an airline ticket was complicated by the airlines’ favored pricing scheme. Back then, an advertised $240 fare might suddenly turn out to be a $300 fare, given that taxes account for roughly 20 percent of the average domestic U.S. airfare. Passengers hated the system while the airlines – which hate price-comparison shoppers, because they drive down prices – embraced it. Fortunately, in 2012, the Department of Transportation imposed a rule requiring that the airlines advertise fares inclusive of the base fare, taxes and fees. Yet, notably, the rule didn’t prohibit the airlines from publishing the taxes and fees separately; it just required that they do so less prominently than the advertised, fully inclusive fare. The airlines, incensed at this pro-consumer bit of rulemaking, have been trying to overturn it ever since.
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