Airline websites make you hunt for bottom-line price
As competition to offer low airfares increases, airline websites are becoming less transparent about displaying bottom-line prices that include taxes and fees.
Seattle Times travel writer
Northwest Travel Guides
Traveling? Send us a postcard
As competition to offer the lowest airfares increases, airline websites are becoming less transparent about displaying bottom-line prices that include taxes and fees.
Federal laws require airline and online travel sites to disclose the total price (base fare plus taxes and fees), before customers click to buy a ticket, but how and when the airlines do that varies.
Most travel websites quote a bottom-line price in their initial fare displays. Some airlines don't, making it appear their price may be lower than it is.
United Airlines' website, www.united.com, showed a $288 round-trip fare between Seattle and Chicago in May. United touted it as the "lowest fare available," then in small type, noted that additional taxes and fees apply. Click on "Price breakdown," and a total fare of $309 appears, the price displayed by Expedia, Orbtiz, Travelocity, Bing and Kayak.
A search on American Airlines' website, www.aa.com, for a round-trip flight between Seattle and Dallas in April showed an "economy super-saver" price of $119 each way for a total of $238. It was only when those flights were selected that a round-trip itinerary appeared with a price of $259.40, including taxes and fees.
Delta Air Lines displays fares, including taxes and fees, in initial search results but obscures the bottom-line price in faint type. To be fair, a few of the travel websites do this too.
A check on www.delta.com for flights between Seattle and Paris in late March brought up a low round-trip fare of $810. At first glance, the fare appeared to be $715 — the price listed in large, black numbers above the $810.
Alaska Airlines displays fares with and without most taxes and fees, depending on where a search begins on www.alaskaair.com.
Search by "schedule," and a list of one-way base fares appears. Prices, including taxes and fees, show up once you begin to select flights. Search by "price," and the base fare comes up in bold, with the price, including taxes, listed in lighter type.
Alaska's low-fare calendar shows the best fares, without taxes and fees, available on each day of the month. Select dates, and the total price appears in a trip summary to the right of the screen.
Carol Pucci: email@example.com
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.