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New DOT Full-Fare Rules Explained

Starting Thursday, Jan. 26, prices for airfare, vacation and certain cruise packages will appear differently on Travelzoo.com and on other websites. At first glance, fares may appear to increase in price substantially, but in reality, the only aspect that has changed is how the fares are displayed.

The change is part of a Department of Transportation (DOT) effort to provide more transparency for the consumer on travel costs.

What’s now included in advertised pricing: Full-fare pricing, including fuel surcharges, taxes and mandatory fees

What’s not included in advertised pricing: Fees for carry-on or checked baggage -- which can add up to $120 per ticket on a roundtrip flight. It also does not include any entrance fees or visa fees that may be charged at international airports.

Any deal on Travelzoo.com that includes airfare – including certain vacation and cruise packages – will now list pricing that includes taxes and mandatory fees. Other types of deals, including those for hotels, car rentals and show tickets, are unaffected. 

Some travel companies -- including United Vacations, Lufthansa, Gate 1 Travel, LatinDestinations, Air France, British Airways and Continental Airlines -- began displaying pricing with taxes before the deadline.

A few examples are below. 

Domestic Airfare

For a $39 each-way fare from Los Angeles to San Francisco, the price will now be listed as $99 roundtrip. This is the total roundtrip cost of the $39 each-way fare.  

-       $39 (LA to SF) + $39 (SF to LA) + $21 (taxes) = $99 (roundtrip with taxes)

International Airfare

For a $249 each-way fare from New York City to London, the price will now be listed as $699 roundtrip. This is the total roundtrip cost of the $249 each-way fare: 

-       $249 (NYC to LON) + $249 (LON to NYC) + $201 (taxes) = $699


For a $599 per person vacation to Jamaica from Miami, the price will now be listed as $714. This is the total cost of the $599 vacation including airfare taxes: 

-       $599 (Vacation from Miami) + $115 (taxes) = $714

Understanding Taxes

As a rule of thumb, on a nonstop domestic flight, taxes are generally about $21 roundtrip. On a one-stop domestic flight, taxes are $42. On an international flight, taxes can approach up to $200 roundtrip. Now these amounts are bundled into the fares displayed.

In some cases, the price listed may be a range, because taxes vary by airport, particularly on international flights. For example, a vacation to Prague could include a flight from New York connecting through Frankfurt, London or Paris. The taxes differ slightly for each itinerary.

The new DOT guidelines include other consumer-friendly changes. Here are a few of the more notable:

  • Gives customers 24 hours to change or cancel a flight reservation without paying a change or rebooking fee -- as long as the flight does not depart within seven days.
  • Bans price increases after a ticket has been purchased.
  • Requires that airlines show any baggage fees during the online ticket purchase process and on e-ticket notifications.
  • Airlines must provide prompt notification about flight cancellations, diversions or delays of more than 30 minutes.

As always, the deal experts at Travelzoo are looking through fare sales and deals with a fine-tooth comb to find the real value, and then test-booking deals to ensure that the price listed is the one paid by a subscriber. So, even if the prices you see on the website and on Top 20 list have changed, rest assured that we are still working hard to find the best deals for our subscribers.

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Tips by

Deal Expert, New York
Thursday, January 26, 2012
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Andrew Young