Air fare transparency in the US still a long way off
Gulliver notes that the US DOT has again postponed its decision on whether or not to mandate the inclusion of taxes and charges in headline air fares to GDSs and online travel agents (OTAs) such as Expedia – as they are in the EU.
Including this information, appropriately marked up, would seem like a sensible move, but there’s a bigger question as to the scope of such activities. Is there a common data standard which allows airlines to detail optional charges – baggage fees; inflight catering – some of which aren’t often particularly optional, especially with the likes of the more aggressive LCCs such as Ryanair?
And what about service standards? Do I get a meal or a snack? Is the business class seat capable of going fully flat or does it slope? Should any of this be a mandatory component of price disclosure?
The former are deemed to be ‘core extras’ (a wonderful contradiction in terms) by the GDS providers, which argue that they should be included in the data provided to them by airlines. Carriers, on the other hand, would prefer to set up direct connections to OTAs in order to provide this metadata, bypassing the GDSs altogether.
American Airlines seems to have had only moderate success in this regard, with its well-documented spat with Expedia resulting in stalemate.
Regardless of the outcome of the May 2013 US DOT decision, it seems that American carriers’ desire to obfuscate prices isn’t going to fade any time soon.