President Biden weighs new rules cracking down on airline fees in executive order

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will order the Transportation Department on Friday to consider new rules to crack down on fees enforced by airlines that travelers have long complained are costly tack-ons for sometimes lackluster service.

Biden will direct the department to consider clear rules that would require the refund of fees when baggage is delayed or when services such as the plane’s Wi-Fi or in-flight entertainment system are malfunctioning or not provided.

The president will also direct the department to consider rules that would require airlines to clearly disclose baggage, change and cancellation fees for consumers.

The directives – although not binding – are part of a broad executive order that Biden will sign Friday afternoon taking aim at monopolies in industries that include agriculture, technology, health care, banking and shipping. The order includes 72 initiatives, regulations and directives involving more than a dozen federal departments to promote greater economic competition.

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President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, July 8, 2021, in Washington.

President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, July 8, 2021, in Washington.

The U.S. airline industry is dominated by four companies: American, Southwest, Delta and United.

“Reduced competition contributes to increasing fees like baggage and cancellation fees,” the White House said in a statement. “These fees are often raised in lockstep, demonstrating a lack of meaningful competitive pressure, and are often hidden from consumers at the point of purchase.”

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The top 10 airlines collected $35.2 billion in fees in 2018, according to the White House, a massive increase from the $1.2 billion collected in 2007.

A lack of competition in the airline industry “reduces incentives to provide good service,” the White House said, noting airlines were late delivering 2.3 million checked bags in 2019, according to data from the Transportation Department.

Biden’s order comes after the Transportation Department already proposed airlines be required to refund fees on checked baggage if the bags aren’t delivered to passengers quickly enough. If approved after a lengthy regulation-writing process, the new policy could go into effect next year.

Contributing: Associated Press. Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Biden executive order directs possible rules for airline fees



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