Survey Shows Consumers Angered by Hidden Airline Fees

Two-thirds say they have been surprised by fees at the airport By: Janeen Christoff
The groups plan to deliver a petition to the DOT.
The groups plan to deliver a petition to the DOT.

The Consumer Travel Alliance (CTA), Business Travel Coalition (BTC) and American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) recently released the results of an online survey of 1,396 travelers showing widespread surprise and anger about hidden airline fees for services such as checked baggage, advance seating and priority boarding.

The survey, conducted during the two weeks prior to Labor Day weekend, found that two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents said they had been surprised at the airport by unexpected fees for things such as checking bags, requesting a seat assignment, getting extra legroom or flying standby. The survey also found that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) said such fees placed somewhat of an unexpected financial strain on their budget for the trip, while more than a quarter (26 percent) said that those fees placed a great deal of unexpected strain. Nearly 99 percent of respondents said that they think airlines should be required to disclose all fees in advance on every website that sells airline tickets.

Responding to travelers’ anger, the three groups announced the launch of a new website, www.MadAsHellAboutHiddenFees.com, which will allow travelers to tell their own hidden-fee stories, create YouTube videos and sign a petition to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) urging it to take action and require airlines to disclose fees in advance through every ticketing channel in which airlines sell seats. The groups also announced that they were marking Sept. 23 as “Mad As Hell Day!” and planned to deliver thousands of traveler petitions to the DOT on that day.

“As we come to the end of one of the busiest air travel periods of the year, millions of Americans are returning from their summer vacations tanned, rested and mad as hell,” said Kevin Mitchell, chairman of BTC. “They are tired of arriving at the airport and finding huge unexpected costs for travel services they thought were part of the ticket price. It’s time for consumers, corporate travel managers and travel agents to stand up and say ‘we’re not going to take it any more.’”

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