December 19, 2017 / 9:08 PM / 6 months ago

States urge Trump administration to adopt new airline baggage fee rules

WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - A group of 16 state attorneys general on Tuesday urged the Trump administration to reverse a decision to abandon a proposed regulation that would have required airlines and third party booking companies to prominently disclose baggage and other fees.

The U.S. Transportation Department on Dec. 7 said it was abandoning proposals to collect detailed information about fees carriers collect from passengers and to require airlines to disclose baggage fee information to consumers when fare and schedule information is provided.

The department said the decision was part of its efforts to reduce regulatory cost.

The coalition, led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, asked the Transportation Department to reverse its decision. U.S. airlines are expected to earn $57 billion from fees this year, including $7 billion from baggage fees, the state officials said.

“The airline industry’s lack of transparency is troubling,” Shapiro said.

The Transportation Department said it was “withdrawing these rulemakings because they are of limited public benefit.” The rule requiring disclosure of other fees “would require airlines to incur significant costs to implement when airlines already provide significant amounts of data on air carrier ancillary fee revenue.” It did not immediately comment Tuesday on the state attorneys general letter. Airlines for America, a trade group representing American Airlines Inc, United Continental Holdings Inc, Southwest Airlines Co, JetBlue Airways Corp and others, praised administration officials “for their ongoing commitment to ushering in a new era of smarter regulation focusing on jobs and economic growth, while recognizing that airlines, like all other businesses, need the freedom to determine which third-parties they do business with (and) how best to market, display and sell their products.”

Attorneys general signing the letter include those from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia. The attorneys general said they regularly get complaints from consumers about airlines fees.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement that airline “fees should be disclosed upfront – so customers know what they’re paying for.” (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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