PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As the Freeport Area High School jazz band serenaded, airline passengers at Pittsburgh International were hoping their bags were arriving with them, especially after paying high baggage fees.
“I paid $60 to check two bags,” said Cody McCaskill of Norman, Oklahoma, at one baggage carousel.
“I had to pay a baggage fee of $25 to check that bag,” added Deanna Marra of Hopewell.
With the exception of Southwest Airlines, almost every airline flying at Pittsburgh International charges for checked bags.
Last year, U.S. Airlines made $4.2 billion in baggage fees alone.
Nobody likes those baggage fees, but what really bothers folks is not knowing what the fee is until the end of the ticketing process.
The Obama administration had proposed a rule that would require airlines to be upfront about the baggage fees.
The Trump administration has decided to withdraw that rule.
That has state Attorney General Josh Shapiro protesting the change.
“The Trump administration rolled back those protections, so while those fees will still be able to be charged, there’s no openness,” Shapiro told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Tuesday. “There’s no transparency. Makes it harder for consumers to know what they’re buying and to be able to compare, sort of price shop with other airlines.”
Shapiro says when most consumers go online to buy an airline ticket, “They’ll say, I’m going from Pittsburgh to Chicago, and they’ll punch that in — here’s the date, here’s the time — and then the airlines will populate their prices and the times of their flights.”
“What you don’t see there up front is all the hidden costs, all the different fees,” he said.
Shapiro says those fees make a big difference on total costs, so he’s authored a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao signed by 16 state attorneys general.
“They’ve tilted the scales in favor of the airline industry,” said Shapiro. “I hope that by us coming together as attorneys general from all across the country we can convince the secretary to rethink this policy, to actually tilt the scales back in favor of the consumers.”