Travelers Fight Back Against Fees

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This has been a lousy year for airline travel.

The average cost of airfare shot up in the first half of 2010, compared to last year. On top of that, it seems like every week one of the major airlines is adding some absurd new fee, including paying more to sit in the front rows of coach or adding fees on top of fees for checking in one piece of luggage. And this doesn’t even touch on all the scattered horror stories from passengers who have been bumped from flights or lost prized possessions … and pets.

However, even with all the fees and airline mishaps, it’s possible that flying could improve significantly soon.

An expanding group of frustrated travelers and politicians is looking to pressure airlines into doing something shocking: doing business with the consumer’s best interest in mind.

The American Society of Travel Agents recently joined forces with two other travel organizations to launch MadAsHellAboutHiddenFees.com, a site that seeks to raise awareness about hidden travel fees. Travelers who have suffered from bill shock when flying can report their unexpected fees on the site and sign an online petition urging their elected officials to take action against these fees.

And it turns out the legislators are ready and willing to act.

As USA Today reported recently, Senator Jim Webb (D-Va.) has introduced a new bill called the Airline Transparency and Accountability Act, which would force airlines to publicize any and all airline fees that customers are being charged at the point of sale.

If that’s not enough, the paper also reports that the Department of Transportation is looking to draft a new set of rules that would expand consumer rights when traveling. Some proposals currently listed on the DOT website include prohibiting airlines from increasing the price after the ticket has been purchased and expanding tarmac delay restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that the Federal Aviation Administration is currently considering its own set of proposals including one which would prohibit pilots from flying more than 13 hours in the course of a 24-hour time period. That may not have a direct impact on your wallet, but there have already been several accidents in the past year attributed to pilot fatigue, so it should definitely improve your overall flight experience.

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