Travel Tech Responds to U.S. Department of Transportation Final Rules on Ancillary Service Fees and Airline Refunds

April 24, 2024 — Today, the Department of Transportation issued two final rules impacting the travel tech industry: the transparency of airline ancillary service fees and refunds of airline tickets for delayed or canceled flights.

“Travel Tech has long supported the Department of Transportation’s goals to provide greater transparency to airline consumers on ancillary fees and clear guidelines on how and when refunds are made. Regrettably, today’s final rules fail to account for how these goals can technically be achieved, adding unnecessary costs and confusion for consumers,” said Laura Chadwick, President & CEO of the Travel Technology Association (Travel Tech).

In its ancillary fee comments, Travel Tech strongly advocated that airlines be required to provide critical ancillary fee information to all ticket agents and intermediaries, including GDSs, and not only to consumer-facing ticket agents as proposed by the Department of Transportation. Many ticket agents rely on GDSs to access airline schedules, fares, and availability information. Unfortunately, in the final ancillary fee rule, the Department declined to alter its proposal.

“Unfortunately, by not including GDSs, the very purpose of this rulemaking will be undermined, making it harder for ticket agents to inform consumers about the cost of ancillary services,” said Chadwick. “Had airlines been required to provide ancillary fee data to all ticket agents, transparency for consumers could have been achieved in months, not years. Consumer advocates cited this reason in their comments for supporting Travel Tech’s position.”

The Department’s final refund rule requires airlines and ticket agents (when acting as the merchant of record) to provide refunds to consumers within seven business days. While the rule requires airlines to notify ticket agents “without delay” when a consumer is eligible for a refund, it will still create situations in which ticket agents must provide refunds without first receiving the consumers’ funds back from the airlines.

“The final refund rule will render ticket agents as airlines’ de facto banks, forcing agents to float airlines’ refunds potentially indefinitely. Doing so unfairly places ticket agents in a precarious financial position that risks their ability to provide comparison shopping tools for consumers in the first place.”

The Travel Technology Association calls on Congress to pass its FAA reauthorization legislation. House and Senate versions of the bill include provisions supported by Travel Tech that provide sensible relief from some aspects of the Department’s final ancillary fee and refund rules.

The Travel Technology Association (Travel Tech) empowers traveler choice by advocating for public policy that promotes marketplace transparency and competition. Travel Tech represents travel technology innovators ranging from dynamic startups, small, and midsize businesses to leading online travel agencies, metasearch engines, short-term rental platforms, global distribution systems, and travel management companies.

To schedule an interview with a Travel Tech spokesperson, contact Bradford Williamson of Glen Echo Group at 202.870.3234 or

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