Washington — President Biden announced a new initiative Monday that would eventually allow consumers to see a more complete price on airline tickets — including baggage and change fees — before they buy, as the White House continues to search for ways to lower costs for Americans amid persistently high inflation.
The White House says the proposed rule from the Transportation Department will prevent airlines from hiding the "true cost" of airline tickets, which would help consumers save money up front and encourage more competition among airlines to offer better fares. The requirement will apply not only to airlines directly but also to third-party search sites such as Kayak and Expedia.
"You should know the full cost of your ticket right when you're comparison shopping," Biden said Monday, citing fees charged by airlines to check luggage or to seat families together. The new rule, the president said, will help consumers "pick the ticket that actually is the best deal for you."
Airlines made nearly $700 million on cancellation and change fees last year, according to the White House.
The proposal, which dates back to the Obama administration before it was scrapped in 2017 by then-President Donald Trump, would need to go through a 60-day comment period before final approval.
Mr. Biden made the announcement on Monday afternoon at a meeting of the White House Competition Council, established last year as a way for his administration to find cost-saving measures for consumers. It was the third meeting of the group, chaired by National Economic Council director Brian Deese.
"Capitalism without competition isn't capitalism," Mr. Biden said at the event, held in the State Dining Room at the White House. "It's exploitation."
At the meeting, Mr. Biden also pushed other federal agencies to take similar cost-saving actions, particularly by increasing transparency on hidden fees that can balloon the true cost of goods and services.
One example is a proposal from the Federal Communications Commission that would require internet service providers to better outline fees and charges on what the administration calls a "broadband nutrition label." And the Agriculture Department on Monday will also unveil new actions meant to encourage competition in various agricultural markets.
The administration has taken similar actions when it comes to bank and credit card fees, which the White House says have saved consumers $3 billion annually compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.
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