The Biden administration is on a mission to crack down on junk fees. Here’s who’s fighting to keep them.
Travelers at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
Trent Sprague/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
From a dizzying array of airline fees to add-ons tacked on to concert ticket prices, Americans are fed up with hidden fees.
And they have an ally in President Joe Biden, who during his State of the Union address earlier this year vowed to crack down on the add-ons, often called junk fees, which when affixed to subtotals can make a simple hotel stay or a round-trip flight financially out of reach.
Biden wants to go after the practice and push companies to increase pricing transparency for consumer purchases, and his administration has targeted a swath of industries across the larger US economy, from airlines and ticket sales companies to banking institutions and credit card companies.
But corporations and their lobbyists are aggressively fighting back against proposed rules that would compel them to be more transparent about hidden fees, according to The Washington Post.
The Post analyzed federal lobbying files and filings sent to federal agencies as the administration pushes to save US consumers from collectively spending billions of dollars in fees each year.
One area where consumers have often lodged complaints is toward the airline industry. Travelers have long spoken out in favor of airlines revealing the true cost of tickets earlier in the sale process. And Biden wants airlines to oblige to what consumers have asked for regarding pricing.
But major US-based airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines, are not thrilled with the prospect of such a change, which consumers have advocated for in numerous letters submitted to the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Doug Mullen, the deputy general counsel at the lobbying group Airlines for America, said at a hearing earlier this year that such a change would create “confusion and frustration,” and he remarked that the DOT “should not regulate in this area.”
Airlines for America lobbies on behalf of the three aforementioned US air carriers, which transport millions of fliers domestically and internationally each year.
According to the DOT, the airline industry took in nearly $6.8 billion in baggage fees in 2022. American Airlines collected almost $1.4 billion in baggage fees, the domestic industry leader last year.
Per The Post, the DOT has sought to create guidelines regarding how airlines should issue refunds, as well as rules for adding checked bag fees and tacking on change fees. But airlines have been critical of the efforts, with carriers stating that the department’s proposals may be impractical.
Regarding concert fees, another sore spot for consumers, Live Nation executive vice president for corporate and regulatory affairs Dan Wall told The Post that the company cannot create mandates for venues that it doesn’t own. But he said that federal regulations on company disclosures would make certain that “everybody does it so that nobody is disadvantaged for doing the right thing.”