Americans will pay equivalent of 12 million turkeys on hidden airline fees this Thanksgiving weekend


Newark - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez held a news conference today at Newark Liberty International Airport to push for final passage of his "Clear Airfares Act," which would give consumers a full breakdown of airline fees they may have to pay before they purchase a ticket. With airfares as much as 60 percent higher this Thanksgiving than last year (http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2010-11-08-1Aholidayairfares08_ST_N.htm), Menendez says it is even more important for families to have a full understanding of what they will pay not just to get to the airport, but to get to their destination.

The "Clear Airfares" bill is now just one step in Congress from becoming law, but the clock is ticking for the broader legislation it is a part of to gain final passage before Congress adjourns next month. According to a study released by the Consumer Travel Alliance, Americans will pay the equivalent of 12 million turkeys on hidden airfares this Thanksgiving weekend (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/surprise-holiday-travel-costs-show-why-americans-are-not-giving-thanks-for-hidden-airline-fees-109865574.html).

"Right now, we have a golden opportunity to finally bring transparency to the airline ticket purchasing process," said Menendez. "We need to protect every traveler who buys a ticket assuming the price they see on the screen is the actual price they're going to pay - not just the opening bid before the airlines add on their hidden fees and charges. At a time when families are watching every last penny, they should have a full understanding of what they will be expected to pay not just to get to the airport, but to get to their destination."

The Senate-passed version of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill includes a slightly-modified version of Clear Airfares, which would provide consumers searching for airline tickets with a full list of airfares and potential additional fees before they pay. The conference committee negotiating the final version of the FAA bill has yet to complete its work, and if it doesn't gain final passage before the end of the Congressional session, work on the legislation will start from scratch next year.

Menendez's Clear Airfares provision aims to bring transparency to the price of flying through a full, clear and upfront breakdown of airfares and fees. Before a consumer purchases a ticket on the Internet, the legislation would require airlines and third-party websites to give consumers a complete and understandable listing of his or her particular airfare, as well as any other possible fees that might be incurred on the flight (such as baggage, seat assignments, etc.).

Currently, consumers must click to peripheral web pages and wade through often confusing text to understand whether or not their airfare includes surcharges and what other taxes and fees may have been added.

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