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Airline baggage fees are focus of new proposed federal rule

If you've ever been surprised by airline baggage fees or find it difficult to compare the cost of airline travel because of the fees, a new proposed federal rule aims to address that issue.

The U.S. Department of Transportation wants airlines to disclose baggage fees alongside fares, and is proposing to require the disclosure.

The proposed rule from U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx comes in the last few days of the Obama Administration, as a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking after a larger round of proposed airline passenger protections.

"Customers should be able to pick the most affordable options based on their needs," Foxx said in a written statement. "Displaying the fees for transporting carry on and checked bags alongside the fare will make the cost of travel more transparent."

The proposal is to require airlines to disclose fees for a first checked bag, second checked bag and carry-on bag with airfare information.

Consumers have long raised concerns about baggage fees and the surprise of finding out about the fees. The question of where and how airlines and online travel agencies should be required to display baggage fees has been debated for years.

The DOT in 2012 required that airline websites show if there are additional baggage fees, and "inform consumers where they can go to see these fees."

This proposed rule would go further, requiring that baggage fees be disclosed by airlines and ticket agents, and provide "customer-specific fee quotes" that include discounts for frequent flier status, for example.

The DOT is taking public comments on the proposed rulemaking, DOT-OST-2017-0007, for 60 days.

The agency is also asking for comments on whether change fees, cancellation fees and other fees should also be disclosed with airfare information.

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About the Author

Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.