The Trump administration should back off its Grinch-like move to allow airlines to hide the cost of added bag fees, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday.
“We are here to warn that consumers are not going to be informed of bag fees when they buy plane tickets for Christmas,” Schumer told reporters during a press conference in his Manhattan office.
The Department of Transportation announced in a notice posted online Thursday that it was scrapping an Obama-era proposal to require airlines to disclose checked and carry-on bag fees at the beginning of a ticket purchase.
That would enable consumers to know the entire cost of a trip as they shopped around to look for the best deal.
But the proposal was frozen after Trump took office.
“I’m not going to tell them what they should charge,” said Schumer, referring to the airline industry. “But let the consumer make that decision.”
“Not even the Koch brothers can dispute that,” he added. “It’s a tenet of economics that consumers should be informed.”
Currently, airlines are required to disclose information about optional fees like baggage charges. But the proposed regulation would force that information to be made public at the start of the process.
In 2008, cash-strapped airlines began charging extra money for baggage and other services like specific seats.
But critics say many appear to keep those fees hidden from online consumers until they have clicked through several reservation requirements.
The airline industry hauled in over $7 billion in checked bag fees in 2016, according to reports.
Still, Schumer staff said the federal transportation agency told his office the proposed bag fee disclosure rule would have “limited public benefit.”
“Give me one single reason why they shouldn’t post bag fees ahead of time,” Schumer said Sunday. “It drives consumers crazy. The price they see online and buy the ticket for is not the price they pay, because when they get to the airport and they check some bags, the fees are added in.”
Last week, the DOT also withdrew a proposal that would have required airlines to make public how much profit they make off of baggage fees and other ancillary revenues.
The moves were hailed by industry executives.