November 20, 2019

Ahead of Travel Season, Whitehouse and Markey Introduce Legislation to Rein in Unfair Airline Fees

FAIR Fees Act would limit fees for checked bags, ticket changes, and cancellations

Washington, D.C. – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) today joined Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congressmen Steve Cohen (TN-09) and Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) to introduce the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act, legislation that would prohibit airlines from charging fees, including cancellation, change, and bag fees, that are not reasonable and proportional to the costs of the services actually provided.  The bill also directs the Department of Transportation to review any other fees charged by airlines.

“Airlines always seem to be finding new ways to stick customers with fees,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “The FAIR Fees Act would make the cost of flying more transparent and passenger-friendly by preventing airlines from imposing absurdly high charges for things like cancellations, flight changes, and checked bags.”

“Airlines fees are as high as the planes passengers are traveling on, and it’s time to stop their rapid ascent,” said Senator Markey.  “It should not cost more to change an airline ticket than the original cost of the ticket, period.  Airlines should not bilk passengers just because they need to check a couple of bags.  With the Thanksgiving travel season upon us, I am proud to reintroduce the FAIR Fees Act so we can put a stop to this price gouging and protect consumers traveling to see their loved ones.  I thank Reps. Cohen and Garcia for their partnership on this important consumer protection legislation.”

Too often, airlines hit travelers with exorbitant charges at checkout caused by unexpected fees for basic aviation services.  This price gouging has exponentially grown as a business practice over the last decade.  The top ten airlines worldwide collected $35.2 billion in ancillary fees in 2018, up from just $1.2 billion in 2007.  In the first two quarters of 2019, U.S. domestic airlines collected $2.8 billion and $1.4 billion in just baggage and reservation fees, respectively.  With the busiest travel season of the year still ahead, both of these figures are on track to reach all-time highs by the end of 2019.

Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) also cosponsor the legislation in the Senate. 

The FAIR Fees Act is endorsed by the National Consumers League, Consumer Reports, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Travelers United, Business Travel Coalition,, and

“Airlines have raised their fees sky high, forcing travelers to pay more and more for basic services that used to be included in the price of a ticket,” said Anna Laitin, Director of Financial Policy, Consumer Reports.  “This bill will help bring fees back down to earth by requiring airlines to make them transparent, reasonable, and proportional to the real cost of providing the service.”



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