Trump admin halts comment period on airfare transparency proposals

Trump admin halts comment period on airfare transparency proposals
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The Trump administration is reportedly suspending the comment period for the public to weigh in on a pair of Obama-era proposals designed to enhance airfare transparency. 

The proposals focused on transparency for airline fees and increasing competition between air carriers. The public comment period for the latter was supposed to close on March 31, after being extended from its original Dec. 31 deadline.

But in filings with the Federal Register this week, the Department of Transportation (DOT) said it is suspending the comment period on the two proposals to “allow the president's appointees to review and consider this action,” according to Travel Weekly.

President Trump implemented a freeze on issuing new regulations after taking office, with the White House instructing federal agencies to postpone the effective date of rules that had already been published in the Federal Register.

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One of the proposed DOT airfare rules would have required airlines and ticket agents to display baggage fees at the start of a fare inquiry. That proposal, unveiled in January, was supposed to accept public feedback until March 20 about whether to disclose fees alongside fares.

The other action, which came last October, sought information about whether the agency should regulate the practice of airlines only selling a portion of their offerings through third-party channels, while displaying their full offerings on their own websites, according to Travel Weekly.

“DOT will be looking into whether that kind of restriction is an unfair practice that makes it harder for travelers to find the most affordable and convenient flights that match their needs,” the DOT said at the time.

The DOT's decision received industry praise on Friday.

“We applaud Secretary Chao’s leadership today and look forward to an era of smarter regulation that protects consumers from unfair practices, but does not step in when action is not warranted,” said Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio.

“Today’s action is a common sense measure reinforcing that the airline industry is capable of making the decisions that best serve our customers, our employees and the communities we serve.”