Keeping fees grounded

The airline industry is not enthusiastically embracing a Department of Transportation rule proposed Friday, which would require airlines to disclose how much they make on fees — such as for pillows or snacks — and list whether they fall into food, entertainment, passenger comfort or other categories.

A spokesman for an industry trade group told the Associated Press airlines should be “free from unnecessary regulatory burdens that add complexity and cost without delivering value.”

Hmmm. Seems to us that airline passengers could make a similar argument about the recent proliferation of airline fees that “add complexity and cost without delivering value.”

Furthermore, a number of observers, including some members of Congress, believe airlines are increasingly using fees to boost revenue because — unlike passenger tickets — the airlines don’t pay excise taxes on the fees. Those taxes provide revenue for local airports and fund the nation’s air traffic control system.

We’re not proponents of excessive regulatory burdens for businesses. However, the airlines initiated the rapidly expanding system of fees. Consumers deserve to know how much money those fees are raising and in what categories. So do federal and local aviation officials who depend on airline taxes to fund their operations.

Friday’s Department of Transportation proposal appears to be a sensible means of ensuring that occurs.


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