Department Of Transportation Says Airlines Can't Charge Extra Baggage Fees After Ticket Purchase

The Secretary of Transportation announced earlier this month that airlines shouldn’t surprise consumers with extra baggage fees after they’ve already purchased a ticket:

Passengers should know what to expect, and what to pay, before they buy a ticket or pack their bags, which is why we are calling for carriers and travel agents to disclose baggage fees in their internet and print ads before anyone purchases a ticket.  We also are making it clear that airlines may not impose increased fees or new restrictions for baggage after a passenger has bought a ticket. 

“Blogger’s Row and Aviation Announcement” [U.S. Department of Transportation] (Thanks to Brian!)
(Photo: Getty Images)


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  1. graymulligan says:

    well then…that’s all fixed.

  2. eckre says:

    oh blah, it’s not fixed, they’ll just add it to the ten thousand words of tiny print everyone clicks though and never reads.

  3. snoop-blog says:

    I bet trying to call them out on your ticket purchase will be worse than hell.

  4. tedyc03 says:

    Because we all know that big companies ALWAYS follow the law each and every time. Enron being a perfect example…

  5. nycaviation says:

    Good to hear her say this but the question is do they have the authority to enforce this?

  6. Can’t, or shouldn’t? The story says one thing, the headline another.

  7. categorically says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: At least for me the story says they “may not impose increased fees or new restrictions”. How is that different than can’t?

  8. lucky_topher says:

    Where do you report a violation to this?

    I just got an email from Sun Country airlines telling me anything booked after May 5 will be subject to the extra baggage fees, but I booked on May 14 and the notification for rate increases were made today.

  9. henrygates says:

    Expect to pay the fee. Here’s what will probably happen.

    1) Go to airport, check bag, lady at counter insists she must charge you a fee.

    2) Argue. Mention this law. Mention your ticket purchase date. Get nowhere because the employee is clueless.

    3) Faced with missing your flight that leaves in an hour, you pay the fee and get on the flight.

    4) Spend the entire flight wondering if the huge battle you will have to endure to possibly get your $15 back is worth the time and aggravation.

    5) Get home, don’t bother. Airlines win.

  10. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    I wonder if they’ll start weighing passengers sooner or later. The 110 pound woman with 80 pounds of luggage is costing them less than the 250 pound man with no luggage. Maybe they’ll have buckets where people can puke before getting on the plane for an instant rebate.

  11. Cee Bee says:

    @tedyc03: word

    imagine that, a large company following the unwritten “rules”

  12. ChChChacos says:

    Well I just booked a flight about 2 weeks ago for July 9th. All I can say is if they pull that BS on me, I’m going to whip out a copy of this law. Because there’s no way in hell I’m paying an extra 15-50 dollars for one checked bag.

  13. quail says:

    I thought it stupid when airlines announced they would charge for the 1st piece of checked luggage. It’s like all of those hotel chains that got into trouble for charging a room safe fee at the time of check-in. Need the money to stay afloat? Just charge it up front and don’t play those sleazebag retailer games. Let the consumer fairly compare their choices. (But then we wouldn’t be just herd then.)

  14. flyingphotog says:


    Well, yes they can enforce it – or at least penalize if it’s not done correctly. The D.O.T. is God to the Airlines.

  15. lincolnparadox says:

    @nycaviation: The Department of transportation can ground an airline for many reasons.

    I don’t think that they would. But I do think that this statement would open up airlines like American to class action litigation.

  16. Nogard13 says:

    “We also are making it clear that airlines may not impose increased fees or new restrictions for baggage after a passenger has bought a ticket. “

    Does this mean that they can’t charge me for overweight baggage? It’s an increased fee after I purchased the ticket, right?

  17. humphrmi says:

    @stanfrombrooklyn: +1 Funny.

  18. erratapage says:

    I use the same bag whenever I fly. It always comes in at 34 pounds. About half the time, I check it, and the rest of the time, I carry it on. There is absolutely no weight difference to the airline.


  19. lewsmind says:


    Funniest comment ever!

  20. basket548 says:

    For all those who want to show a copy of the ‘law’ (which really isn’t, but whatever), why not just print out a copy of your email confirmation with date of purchase, and the airline’s website section that says that fees are only charged to tickets purchased after a certain date?

  21. davidmac2003 says:

    Basket: because that’s not what the Contract of Carriage allows for. Delta, for example, has amended their CoC to change the bag charge fee, and the terms of their CoC state they can alter it at will, and that whatever CoC is in force when your travel begins is in force throughout your travel. Furthermore, their website says nothing about “fees charged to tickets purchased…” – they are clear that fees are dependent on travel date, not purchase date.

    So threatening to sic the DOT on them is the best we consumers have for now.

  22. azntg says:

    @erratapage: Well said.

    To me, it’s just like the cell phone industry and their ETFs. Only, the cell phone industry’s rationale is a tad bit (and only by a bit) more applicable to many customers than American Airlines’ rationale on their check charges (soon to be followed by other lemmings)

  23. bagumpity says:

    Just take your first bag through security, board at the very last minute and then gate check the bag. If they ask you for $15, tell them your wallet is at the bottom of the bag. If they insist, take out one item at a time, as slowly as possible. Discuss the item cheerfully with the gate agent (“Oh, and I got THIS pair of socks at Walmart. Now, where’s that other one. I should pair them up now that I have everything out…”) Wait until you get to your wallet to tell them you don’t have any cash. Give them a credit card you know won’t be accepted. Then when they come back to tell you, give them ANOTHER card you know won’t be accepted. And after that, another. Mix it up with a card with a scratched up mag stripe that won’t even scan. If you still have to pay or they make you get off the aircraft, at least you’ll have just cost more in fuel and missed departure time penalties than they got out of you.

  24. scoosdad says:

    How soon before an airline tries to retroactively bill a customer who’s already charged his ticket and is trying to check in, for the “fuel surcharge”?

    Wait for it… all they need to do is quietly put the right to do that somewhere in the fine print of their carriage agreements, which of course we all read carefully before agreeing to purchase a ticket. Like we read and print out a copy of all the EUL’s we click “I agree” on.

    Yup, I know.. “chargeback!!”

  25. TheNecklaceLady says:

    1. Decide on destination.

    2. Load up car with as much baggage as you want.

    3. Crank up the XM radio and hit the road.

    4. Enjoy America.

    5. Airlines lose.