4:10 PM

Well, not ALL the airlines
want to bait and switch
your next Internet ticket purchase

As reported all over the ‘Net and in a post below, the major airlines have been lobbying Congress HARD to make advertising Internet fares a confusing mess so they’ll be able to offer seats at one price and then tack on all sorts of extra fees, enabling airlines to mask the true costs of flights. Click the $99 fare to Deluth and it becomes the $300 ticket from hell AFTER you press purchase.

This could not possibly be more bogus.

But the Department of Transportation is not signing off on this whacked idea just yet. Here are four widely-published scenerios they may choose to accept:

• Maintaining the current situation, which allows only government-imposed fees and taxes to be tacked on to the price of the fare at the time of purchase.

• Require that advertised fares also include the cost of fees and taxes.

• Eliminate most requirements for advertised fares. Airlines could advertise lower fares, so long as they tell passengers the full cost of the fare when they go to buy the ticket.

• Eliminate fare-advertising rules altogether.
Before you fume over this, there is a bright spot. While the bigs support loosening the advertising rules and messing with your head on your next online ticket buy, at least two carriers, Southwest and JetBlue, have gone on record in opposition to easing the advertising rules. Good for them.

As usual, these two carriers get my vote as forward thinkers. Southwest has always been able to skirt big losses by intelligent hedging on fuel buys, and Jetblue – despite recent losses – is always on the cutting edge of just about everything in the industry. When was the last time you saw a TV monitor at each seat on American, Delta or United? Or pillows. Or food. Get real.

So the next time you log on to buy airplane tickets, think about the two outspoken carriers that want to give you their price fair and straight. I fully expect the DOT – part of our limping Federal system – to turn this issue into a future snafu du jour, and I plan on flying SWA and JBU any chance I can. Sure, I might have to drive two hours to catch their bird, but being in the ad business anyway, I really, really hate deceptive advertising, so as I drive to PDX, I'll be grinning knowing a honest airline will be getting my money.

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