Airfare pricing to change? Proposed law called a trap for travelers

New government figures show business is good for America's airlines. They made a reported combined profit of more than $12 billion. In 2012, airlines barely broke even. Meanwhile, Congress may change the price you see when you shop for airline tickets.

The Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 flew through a congressional committee with bipartisan support. But now, some consumer advocates are calling it a trap for travelers, CBS News' Jeff Pegues reported.

More than 700 million people fly commercially in the U.S. every year, and the airlines argue that about a quarter of the price of every ticket goes to the government.

Currently, when you shop for a ticket the base fare, the fees, taxes and the total price are all listed together, but if the Transparent Airfares Act becomes law, airlines would advertise the base airfare and then separately disclose the total cost of travel with any government-imposed taxes and fees.

Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., a co-sponsor of the legislation, says travelers should know where their money is really going.

"The Transparency Act that we're trying to put forth is - it's a common sense provision. ... This is a bill that's going to provide more transparency so that the taxpayers of this country understand how much of that ticket cost is going towards government, and I think they need to know that."

Some critics have argued the change will to lead to deceptive advertising, a charge Davis dismisses.

"I mean, the bottom line is, the current pricing can be, can be used or we can go back to the pre-2012, when the taxes and fees were much more transparent," Davis said.

In 2011, a new government rule led to what's called full fare advertising. It required carriers to disclose in their ads the total price of tickets up-front, including federal taxes and fees.

Paul Hudson, of, says without the 2011 rule in place, consumers will get sticker shock. "They'll be left with a confusing situation," he said. "You won't know what the actual cost is until you're ready to buy the ticket or until you take out your magnifying glass and read the fine print."

On Monday, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., introduced legislation that his office says, "shoots down the House bill."

They believe the legislation they are proposing will keep fares as they are, as they're advertised at the full cost, imposing penalties should there be any deceptive advertising as they see it.

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