Booking an airline ticket has become more complicated and confusing than ever to the public.
Booking an airline ticket has become more complicated and confusing than ever to the public, as often we don't know what we are paying for.

In the USA the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act requires air carriers to disclose their baggage fees, cancellation fees, change fees, ticketing fees and seat selection fees "in a standardized format."

It's unclear whether labelling on tickets will become law, but it raises some interesting questions, mainly:  Why is it so hard to figure out what you're paying for?

The warnings would be straightforward, according to lawmakers. "Fees are a puzzle for even the most ardent road warrior," says Kerry Mooneyham, a Missouri travel agent.

The reason is simple: Added fees increase airline profits. The more confusing they are, the better.

"Consumers looking for airline tickets are now confronted with a dizzying array of fees when they go shopping - bag fees, seat fees, and many others," Nelson says. "This provision would allow consumers to see all the fees upfront, before they buy a ticket, and allow them to make an educated decision about what airline makes the most sense for their travel needs."

Change fees:  

These fees have gradually increased until, a few years ago, major airlines began introducing tickets that were completely unchangeable. 
Because these tickets are also the cheapest, many passengers booked them, often without reading the restrictions. Airlines in the USA collected $2.8 billion (R40 billion) in fees for reservation cancellations and ticket changes in 2017. No one knows how many tickets were discarded because they were unusable.

Additional fees add up to one big problem: Consumers who don't know exactly how much they actually have to pay for their airline tickets. A recent survey by the American Society of Travel Advisors found that 79%  of travellers support requiring airlines to disclose all fees up front.

A breakdown of prices will give customers a feeling that they are dealing with an honest and transparent company. Customers value clarity, companies that are upfront when selling their product will ultimately be translated into increased sales.

Dori Russ, a consultant based in Jacksonville, Florida, and a frequent air traveller, says labels on tickets might be redundant and inefficient.

"Most companies have a description of services on their websites," she says. "If you're unsure about the charges, it's easy to research them online. Why not do a little research before you book?"

That may be the only option air travelers have - at least for now.