The Biden administration is proposing a Junk Fee Prevention Act that could help travelers save money - or at least avoid pricing surprises - on future trips.
As detailed on the White House website, the proposal would ban hotels from charging separate, unadvertised resort or hospitality or amenity fees to their guests. Instead, all fees would have to be included upfront in the cost of the room when prices are shown on online booking sites, instead of being tacked on at the end of the reservation process.
The proposal does not explicitly mention taxes, but I would love to see those included in the quoted prices of hotels and airfares, too. Personally, I would love to see the United States adopt the standard used in many other places around the world, where the posted or advertised price for anything is the price you pay. No added taxes or fees at the register or check-out.
The typical argument for resort fees is that they bundle the costs of a variety of optional services for guests' convenience, and that many hotels will remove the fees from their guests' bills if the guests choose not to use those services. But that's an after-the-fact, opt-out process and those almost always favor companies over consumers. Automated checkins and checkouts also discourage guests from visiting a front desk where they might get a hotel employee to cancel the fees.
Lawsuits and bad guest feedback have prompted many hotels to start including resort fees in room rates or at least advertised prices, but the hidden fees remain at some properties around the country.
Another section in the proposed act would prevent airlines from seating children under 13 separately from their parents when their parents do not pay an extra fee to choose their seats. That's another strong "yes" from me, if for no other reason than to spare other passengers from having to babysit a child when the airline strands their parents several rows away. It also would do away with the awkward practice of flight attendants trying to help parents rearrange assigned seating when they should be getting the cabin ready for take-off.
Airlines could still charge passengers, including parents, for seat assignments. But when assigning seats for people who did not pay the fee - or have the status or fare class to avoid them - airlines could not split young kids from a parent. They could still seat the parent and child in middle seats in the middle section at the back of the plane, but they would be together.
The whole proposal is probably DOA given the division in Congress right now, but I think it's encouraging to see anyone in government pitching the idea that consumer pricing ought to be more transparent and accurate.
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