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Gottheimer announces new clear and simple airline agenda

NEWARK, NJ (Essex County) — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Monday announced a new Clear and Simple Airline Agenda to protect families’ hard-earned dollars by boosting transparency and clarity when booking a plane ticket.

Gottheimer’s Clear and Simple Airline Agenda aims to eliminate surprise costs and prevent families from having to read endless pages of wonky, small type legalese and fare rules just to try to understand what they are buying and the fees that come with their plane ticket.

U.S. airlines made more than $112 billion dollars in passenger fees during the first nine months of 2022 — all while the cost of airfare continues to rise. Last October, the U.S. Department of Transportation received more than 5,000 complaints about airline service from consumers in just one month — a 372% increase from the number of complaints received pre-pandemic in October of 2019.

The President recently highlighted “junk fees” in his State of the Union address earlier this month. Junk fees are additional charges and taxes — usually hidden from the customer — that are tacked on to the final price at the time of payment.

Gottheimer’s Clear and Simple Airline Agenda:

  • Gottheimer will be sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation urging for the swift finalization and implementation of a rule requiring airlines and online booking services to show the full price of a plane ticket up front, including baggage fees, change fees, cancellation fees, and other hidden charges.
  • Gottheimer is calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation to require all commercial airlines to have a new “Airline Transparency Box” to display all taxes, seat, baggage, and airport fees, and cancellation and change fees all on the same page when fare options appear on a website or app — not at the very end.
    • The box is broken down into two sections: general fees in the top table, and cancellation rules and fees by ticket class in the bottom table.
    • This type of transparency box is similar to the “Schumer Box” that summarizes the costs and fees for credit cards.

“Right now, and I hear about this far too often from constituents, it’s as if the airlines are looking for ways to nickel and dime you, and make the tickets and the fare rules even more confusing. It’s hard to even understand what you’re buying. It seems like the baggage costs, the seat fees, the cancellation and ticket change charges, or the taxes and fees no one has ever heard of add up to more than the cost of the ticket itself,” Gottheimer said. “Behind every single fee are wonky, small type legalese and fare rules. We’ve all seen the thousand-word fine print of terms and conditions — checking off boxes to verify that you’ve read what seems like hundreds of pages. Travel agents are a thing of the past for most, so now it feels like you need to hire a lawyer just to feel safe about buying plane tickets for a family.”

“We need to make sure airlines are doing everything they can to be clear and simple when communicating with consumers about all taxes and airport fees. Those often get left out and come out of nowhere on the ticket price until right before you hit the buy button,” Gottheimer said. 

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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