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Airlines sue DOT over rule requiring fee disclosure upfront

Major U.S. airlines on Friday filed a lawsuit against the Department of Transportation over a newly announced rule that will require carriers to disclose “critical extra service fees” upfront, including ones for checking bags and changing or canceling reservations.

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The rule exceeds the DOT’s authority and is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise contrary to law,” representatives for several airlines and the lobbying group Airlines for America said in the lawsuit filed in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court.

They asked the court to set the rule aside.

The Biden administration announced the final rule last month. It will require airlines to disclose fees for a first or second checked bag, a carry-on bag and canceling or changing a flight alongside the airfare.

The carriers suing to block the rule are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways and United Airlines. The airlines said that they already provide customers with complete disclosures of all fees associated with a trip before tickets are purchased and that the new rule will serve only to confuse travelers, Reuters reported.

Airlines for America called the rule “a bad solution in search of a problem,” adding that it will lead to consumers being “inundated with information that will only serve to complicate the buying process,” according to Bloomberg News.

In a statement obtained by the news agency, DOT spokesman Sean Manning said the department “will vigorously defend our rule protecting people from hidden junk fees and ensuring travelers can see the full price of a flight before they purchase a ticket.”

“Many air travelers will be disappointed to learn that the airline lobby is suing to stop these common-sense protections,” he said.

Authorities announced the new rule on April 24, noting that government data showed a more than 30% increase in airline baggage fees between 2018 and 2022.

“Airlines should compete with one another to secure passengers’ business—not to see who can charge the most in surprise fees,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said last month.

“DOT’s new rule will save passengers over half a billion dollars a year in unnecessary or unexpected fees by holding airlines accountable for being transparent with their customers.”

President Joe Biden touted the new rule last month on social media, writing, “It’s time Americans got a better deal.”