An outcry over airline fees

There's a little progress to report on the serious problem airlines have created for themselves with their widespread adoption of fees of all sorts for services and products once included in the price of a ticket. Not only are their customers annoyed about them but travel agencies, online travel services and companies that spend millions on air travel are calling for tougher federal regulation, requiring carriers to display and account for the fees before tickets are sold. Without better transparency, the complainers say, no one can tell what the final, bottom line cost of an airline flight is until you're actually on the plane, having paid to check a bag and reserve an aisle seat just before boarding.

The Web site www.madashellabouthiddenfees.com seeks to channel the anger. You can sign a petition from a link there to the U.S. Department of Transportation, calling for airlines to be required to display the full cost of a ticket, no matter which channel is used to buy it.

Also, Sabre, one of the big GDSs, or global distribution computer systems used by travel agents, has just revealed a new program that will round up the fees for a customer who goes through an agency channel to book and buy a ticket. This trade publication article on Sabre's move is technical, but will give you detail on the complicated effort needed to find a solution to this problem.

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