Ads will have to show real cost of plane tickets

25 Jan

Wednesday is the last day carriers can exclude most government taxes and fees in their advertised prices for flights. Starting Thursday, airlines have to disclose the entire price — or face fines from the Department of Transportation.

Kate Hanni, founder of Flyers, helped push the new provision through. “This rule brings a lot more transparency to airline passengers and a lot more predictability to their trips,” she says. “It was necessary because the airlines have implemented many things people would consider to be deceptive practices but actually weren’t breaking the law. Now if they do them, they’ll be breaking the law.”

According to, government taxes and fees can add as much as $60 to the price of a typical $200 domestic roundtrip ticket with a connecting flight. Right now, airline ads can market the price for just $215 ($200 fare + $15 excise tax). Thursday, they’ll have to tell you up-front that the true cost is $260.


For an international flight, the difference can be even greater, says Taxes and fees can push the price of a New York to London flight recently advertised at $151 all the way to $735.

“These are all things the airlines don’t want us to know,” says Hanni. “They want to keep us in the dark, because they make more money.”

The airlines say they’re being singled out unfairly. They argue virtually every other type of business from electronics stores to supermarkets advertises the price of their products before taxes

What the new rules won’t do is prevent airlines from advertising flights at a certain price when only a fraction of the seats are really available at the sale price. But passenger rights advocates the new rule is a big next step in the right direction.


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