Just How Expensive is Your Flight?


The U.S. Department of Transportation wants airlines to be more transparent about fees that impact the cost of air travel.

Secretary Anthony Foxx wants a new rule that would require airlines to prominently display their added fees at ticketing time.

Here’s an excerpt of the DOT news release on May 21: “Currently, fees for additional services are often difficult to determine when searching for airfares and as a result, many consumers are unable to understand the true cost of travel before purchasing a ticket.”

Airlines are not happy about the proposed rule, and management claims adding this burden will result in higher costs that will be passed along to consumers.

However you might feel about government intervention in private enterprise, there is one good point to be made here: it’s often difficult to comparison shop, because the fee structures vary greatly from airline to airline. An airline with the lowest airfare but sky-high fees might not offer the cheapest ride.

Patrick Surry of Hopper.com published a study of how fees impact the true costs of flying. Surry found making changes in variables such as change fees and wi-fi availability “can significantly increase the true cost of flying.”

The analysis, for some reason, doesn’t include Southwest Airlines. But it is an interesting look at what it really costs to fly these days, and it should make us all think about what amenities we’re willing to pay for at time of ticket purchase, and which we gladly can forgo.