Photo: Spirit Air
Yesterday was the first day airlines had to comply with new federal regulations banning them from hiding additional fees and taxes in airfare.Spirit Air was one of the pink elephants airlines in the room when these new rules were drafted and it’s decided it’s not going down without a fight on this one.
Visit the airline’s site right now and you’ll get hit with a jarring “WARNING” ad (see photo at right) alerting readers that the new rules are “not consumer-friendly or in your best interest.”
The ad prompts you to visit to this site (http://keepmyfareslow.org/), which features a strongly-worded letter saying the new rules would force Spirit to hide government taxes and fees in its airfare.
Here’s an excerpt:
“If the government can hide taxes in your airfares, then they can carry out their hidden agenda and quietly increase their taxes. (Yes, such talks are already underway.) And if they can do it to the airline industry, what’s next?”
Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza followed up with this public statement:
“We believe that the better form of transparency is to break out costs so customers know exactly what they are buying.
“If the government can hide taxes in consumer’s airfares – which they are mandating us to do starting this week – then they can quietly carry out their hidden agenda and increase the taxes consumers bear.”
Let’s put this in perspective.
This is the same airline that was fined last year by the Department of Transportation for deceptive advertising when it publicized $9 one-way fares without disclosing additional fees and taxes. And who could forget when it earned the winning distinction of the second worst airline in the world?
Already, Spirit’s campaign has ruffled some feathers.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D.-Calif., posted a statement to her constituents blasting the airline for its inflammatory message along with an email she sent to Baldanza.
“I have been shocked by the failure of your airline to tell the truth in an email sent to your customers earlier this week as well as in warnings posted on Spirit.com that read, ‘New government regulations require us to HIDE taxes in your fares.’ Nothing could be further from the truth,” the senator wrote.
“What the rule says is that you have to tell your customers the full cost of a ticket. It prohibits Spirit or any other airline from advertising fares ‘that exclude taxes, fees or other charges since the major impact of such presentations is to confuse and deceive consumers.'”
As Boxer mentions, other airlines haven’t seemed to have any trouble swallowing the new rules.
Southwest and JetBlue both posted messages on their sites explaining the regulations without much fanfare. Each spelled out how the new rules would effect their sites and how they list their fares to consumers.