DOT calls for bag-fee transparency in midnight regulation

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The Department of Transportation (DOT) on Tuesday proposed a rule that would require airlines and ticket agents (including travel agents) to disclose fees for carry-on and checked bags from the beginning of a fare inquiry.

If enacted, the rule would mean that carriers couldn't show a ticket price on a web interface, then only later in the sales process show fees for baggage.

"Displaying the fees for transporting carry-on and checked bags alongside the fare will make the cost of travel more transparent," outgoing DOT secretary Anthony Foxx said in prepared remarks.

The initiation of the new rulemaking process for fare displays comes just three days before Foxx will leave the post as the Trump administration takes office.

The move also comes 2-and-a-half years after an earlier DOT rulemaking process that included similar disclosure requirements for bag fees as well advance seating assignments.

But that rulemaking effort was a broader one, which also included such items as enhanced data reporting requirements for airlines, disclosures about cancellation policies and a proposal that consumers be able to cancel tickets for free within 24 hours of a purchase.

In a regulatory filing Tuesday, the DOT said that baggage fee disclosures were among the more controversial proposals of that 2014 process, which is why they are now to be handled separately in this new rulemaking process.

Interested parties have 60 days to comment on the proposal.

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