DOT reaffirms decision on service fees

The Transportation Department reaffirmed its decision allowing Orbitz
, and other Internet travel agencies, list service fees separately from air fares.

In the original December order, issued after Orbitz made the request, the DOT agreed to allow the “unbundling” of service fees, but only for online agencies. It also imposed conditions requiring a prominent notice about fees on the “first page” of the Web sites and clear disclosure of the fees elsewhere in the booking path.

In asking the DOT
to reconsider, the Radius consortium complained that the ruling gave Orbitz and other online sites an “unfair advantage” over traditional agencies.

In reaffirming its order March 15, the DOT said the ruling does not give anyone an advantage because the Internet sites still must include the fees in the total ticket price.

The DOT said rules regarding traditional agency service fees are being considered as part of its ongoing—and ever-expanding—review of CRS rules.


The DOT also rejected several requests made by Travelocity
that included a suggestion that the DOT order Orbitz to put an additional consumer notice on its site stating that, because it charges fees, all fares on Orbitz are “available for less” directly from airline sites.

Related stories on ITN:

(14/01/2002) Agents ask DOT to end Web-only air fares

(14/01/2002) DOT weighs in on how to disclose service fees

(17/04/2001) Orbitz set to launch after green light from DOT