Several major airlines in the United States are taking legal action against the US Department of Transportation (DOT) over a new regulation that mandates upfront disclosure of ancillary airline fees. The rule aims to enhance consumer transparency regarding additional charges associated with air travel.

The lobby group Airlines for America along with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and United Airlines have petitioned the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana for a judicial review of the final rule issued by the DOT.

The petitioners want a court order setting the rule aside, claiming it exceeds the DOT's authority and that it is "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise contrary to law", according to the petition seen by ch-aviation.

The regulation published on April 30 aims to strengthen consumer protection by ensuring transparency in areas such as baggage fees and flight-change or cancellation charges before a ticket is purchased. Under the final rule, US and foreign airlines and ticketing agents must clearly disclose passenger-specific or itinerary-specific fees for ancillary services whenever fare and schedule information is provided for flights to, within, and from the US.

The final rule aligns with an executive order from the Biden administration to promote competition in the US economy. It states: "The rule will ensure that consumers have the information they need to understand the true costs of air transportation that apply to them, which will create a more competitive market with better outcomes for consumers."

In a statement issued to Reuters, Airlines for America argued that the regulation would confuse consumers and that the DOT's "attempt to regulate private business operations in a thriving marketplace is beyond its authority."

The DOT responded that it would "vigorously defend our rule protecting people from hidden junk fees and ensuring travellers can see the full price of a flight before they purchase a ticket."