Buttigieg 'speechless' as airlines sue over new fee rules

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg heavily criticized a recent lawsuit by major airlines over a new rule that requires airline companies to reveal extra fees on purchases.

“We just issued a rule requiring airlines to inform you, before you buy a ticket, of fees they will charge you,” Buttigieg said Tuesday in a post on the social platform X. “Now, the airline lobby is suing us, saying that if you have the right to that information it will ‘confuse’ you. For once, I am speechless.”

The lawsuit was filed last Friday by trade group Airlines for America, as well as Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways Corp., Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines. In a statement, Airlines for America said the rule “will greatly confuse consumers who will be inundated with information that will only serve to complicate the buying process.”

“Airlines go to great lengths to make their customers knowledgeable about these fees. In addition to the disclosures required by existing DOT (Department of Transportation) regulations, airlines engage in competitive advertising and emphasize ancillary fee discounts and benefits when they promote their loyalty programs,” the group wrote.

The Department of Transportation said in a statement to The Hill that officials “will vigorously defend our rule protecting people from hidden junk fees and ensuring travelers can see the full price of a flight before they purchase a ticket.”

“Many air travelers will be disappointed to learn that the airline lobby is suing to stop these common-sense protections,” the statement continues.

The Biden administration finalized the rule late last month, with Buttigieg saying in a statement at the time that “airlines should compete with one another to secure passengers’ business — not to see who can charge the most in surprise fees.”

“DOT’s new rule will save passengers over half a billion dollars a year in unnecessary or unexpected fees by holding airlines accountable for being transparent with their customers,” he continued. 

The Hill has reached out to Airlines for America for comment. 

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