by Matt Alderton | September 05, 2014
Because rising airfares continue to impact where meetings are held, meeting planners should take note: A majority of travelers (88 percent) think it's "very" or "extremely" important that airlines share their fees for baggage and seat assignments at the point of sale.

So finds a new survey of more than 1,000 air travelers by the traveler advocacy group Open Allies for Airfare Transparency, which asked travelers how they feel about a proposed U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rule requiring airlines to advertise basic ancillary fees upfront on travel websites at the time of purchase. Two-thirds (63 percent) said it is "very" or "extremely" inconvenient to buy ancillary services today, and 81 percent said current airline practices on fees are "unfair and deceptive" for not allowing travelers to see or purchase fees at all points of sale.

Other key findings:

• More than half of air travelers (55 percent) said they had been surprised by additional fees after they had purchased their tickets.

• Roughly half (47 percent) of air travelers said it has become "very difficult" or "nearly impossible" for them to search and find the lowest fare for air travel across airlines, including fees.

•  More than 80 percent of air travelers said DOT should expand its proposed rule to cover at least one other type of ancillary fee, including cancellation fees (68 percent), change fees (64 percent), and priority boarding fees (49 percent).

• By nearly a 6-1 margin (71 percent to 13 percent), travelers said airlines should be required to sell their fees wherever they sell their tickets.

"To protect air travel consumers, we need to fix the significant problems they face in searching, comparing, and buying ancillary fees, which have become ubiquitous in the airline industry," Andrew Weinstein, executive director of Open Allies for Airfare Transparency, said in a statement. "The proposed DOT rule gets almost halfway there by requiring airlines to share their fees for baggage and seat assignments, but it fails to address the intertwined issue of how to buy those services at the time of ticket purchase.  Playing peek-a-boo with prices will not address the underlying consumer harm, unless travelers can purchase those fees wherever they buy their tickets."