Passenger Rights Group Calls For Cap To Airline Change Fees For International Flights

Under certain circumstances – like significant weather events – airlines allow passengers to change their travel plans at no extra cost.But generally travelers can expect to pay upwards of hundreds of dollars to revise their travel plans. Now a group of passenger rights advocates are asking U.S. regulators to adopt a more reasonable change fee cap of $100 for international flights.

The Los Angeles Times reports FlyersRights has petitioned the U.S. Department of Transportation to adopt a fee cap for the often exorbitant fees consumers must pay to airlines when changing a reservation.

The group contends that airlines are now making record profits but continue to increase change fees for simple flight changes.

Officials with the group say that just a few years ago change fees were as low as $50 to $100 for a nonrefundable international ticket, but now those charges can be as high as $500.

Airlines have also increased their change fees for domestic flights.

In 2013, a number of airlines such as United and American hiked their change fee by $50. Those fees now range from nothing to up to $200.

FlyersRights says that while the Dept. of Transportation no longer has the authority to regulate domestic flight change fees, it can make a difference when it comes to international charges.

The Times reports that the industry brought in $2.8 billion for reservation change fees in 2013, and that the figure is only expected to grow in Dept. of Transportation’s 2014 report.

“They are enormously profitable now and it appears they are engaging in rampant cartel-like behavior,” Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights, tells the Times.

Unsurprisingly, the airline industry group Airlines for America contends that the current change fees aren’t excessive.

“FlyersRights’ petition fails to demonstrate that there has been a market failure when it comes to what airlines charge for changed reservations,” a spokeswoman for the trade group tells the Times. “Airline pricing is extremely transparent and customers are aware of what they are purchasing and at what price before they buy their air transportation.”

While airline fees don’t appear to be changing just yet, passengers can attempt to avoid add-on charges and fees in a number of ways.

Passenger rights group calls for a cap on airline change fees [The Los Angeles Times]

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