Passenger Rights

New Bill Lets Airlines Display Deceiving Fares

And rejects amendment standardizing seat pitches. Sigh… Score two for the airlines, nil for consumers.

Score two for the airlines, nil for consumers.

Two amendments passing through the U.S. House of Representatives last week will hurt the average American air traveler: one lets airlines display fictitious low-ball fares, while the second rejects standardizing aircraft seat pitch.

  • The House accepted an amendment from Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R, FL) that brings the anti-consumer Transparent Airfares Act proposal back to life. That’s the provision that would allow airlines to omit taxes and fees from their advertised prices and first-screen fare postings.
  • It also rejected an amendment from Congressman Steve Cohen (D, TN) that would potentially require the FAA to set minimum standards of airline seat spacing. The purpose was to assure that airline passengers could (1) safely exit a survivable crash in an airplane with the tightest allowable seating within the requisite 90-minute interval, and (2) avoid the increased risks of deep vein thrombosis resulting from being forced to sit in undersized seats for extended periods of time.

Consumer advocates who opposed the first and supported the second have moved their efforts to the Senate. At this point, the overall outcome is unclear but events to date underscore the power of the airline lobby to bypass important consumer concerns. We will keep you in the loop of upcoming developments.

More from SmarterTravel:

Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuses every day at SmarterTravel.

By Ed Perkins

A nationally recognized reporter, writer, and consumer advocate, Ed Perkins focuses on how travelers can find the best deals and avoid scams.

He is the author of "Online Travel" (2000) and "Business Travel: When It's Your Money" (2004), the first step-by-step guide specifically written for small business and self-employed professional travelers. He was also the co-author of the annual "Best Travel Deals" series from Consumers Union.

Perkins' advice for business travelers is featured on, a website devoted to helping small business and self-employed professional travelers find the best value for their travel dollars.

Perkins was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, one of the country's most influential travel publications, from which he retired in 1998. He has also written for Business Traveller magazine (London).

Perkins' travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week with David Brinkley," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.

Before editing Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Perkins spent 25 years in travel research and consulting with assignments ranging from national tourism development strategies to the design of computer-based tourism models.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Perkins lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife.