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New regulations could shock travelers

January 31, 2012, 05:40 pm

The new Federal Aviation Administration rules took effect last week requiring airlines to include taxes and fees in advertised prices. Travel experts predict the inflated ticket prices may scare many passengers away from carriers when first faced with more expensive tickets.

"At first consumers might face a bit of a sticker shocker, as pricing seems much higher upfront," Anne Banas, editor of SmartTravel.com, told the Los Angeles Times. "But ultimately it'll be easier for them to compare prices across multiple airlines."

Steve Lott, spokesman for the Air Transport Association, told the source that the new rule will undoubtedly lower demand briefly, but the ticket sales will recover when travelers get used to the higher prices published in advertisements. While the new regulations require all mandatory fees and taxes to be included in advertised prices, optional fees, such as baggage costs or on board entertainment, does not have to be included in the published price.

According to the Times, many U.S. airlines protested the new regulation when it was first proposed a year ago, arguing that other industries are not required to include all fees and taxes in their advertisements. In fact, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air filed a lawsuit against the proposed rule, and the case is still pending.

Still angered by the regulations, Spirit has also launched an online campaign to contend the new rule, believing the regulation will hide federal taxes. Spirit created the keepmyfareslow.org website to address the situation publicly. The site accuses federal officials of trying to camouflage increased federal taxes from consumers at the expense of the airlines, theL.A. Times reported.

In addition, Spirit issued a press release and an email to customers criticizing the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer for supporting the regulations. Experts believe Spirit's backlash against the regulations could put it in a bad position in the future, despite its continued compliance with the new rules, Bloomberg reported.

"It's never a good idea to take on your regulator even if you have a good case," David Bartlett, senior vice president of Levick Strategic Communications, told the source{Bloomberg}. "It puts you in a bad position, usually unnecessarily, because the regulator has all the power."

In response to Spirit's comments, Senator Boxer accused the carrier of deliberately attempting to deceive the public about the new regulation, by detracting attention to federal officials, the source reported.

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