Airline fuel surcharge: Justified or fraud?


WASHINGTON, DC – The Business Travel Coalition (BTC) today urged US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to launch a thorough and in-depth investigation with respect to the airline industry’s continued assessment of often-sizeable fuel surcharges on many itineraries in violation of DOT’s clear “Additional Guidance on Airfare/Air Tour Price Advertisements” of February 21, 2012. Some airlines flout the express admonitions of DOT in its Guidance by deceptively renaming these fuel surcharges as “carrier imposed charges.”

“As DOT will be well aware, oil prices have plummeted some 70 percent since June of 2014 while most U.S. airlines have left their often outsized fuel surcharges in place. We believe that the continued, widespread imposition of these substantial, add-on fuel surcharges in the face of plummeting jet fuel prices cannot be justified. This practice, therefore, constitutes an unfair and deceptive act or practice and an unfair method of competition in violation of 49 U.S.C. §41712. Further, these pervasive violations of §41712 inflict massive overcharges on consumers,” stated BTC founder Kevin Mitchell in the letter to Secretary Foxx.

The Coalition urged DOT in its investigation to hold the airlines assessing fuel surcharges, by any term or language, to account — by requiring them to substantiate on a route-by-route basis that the fuel surcharges do indeed reflect the actual costs of fuel per passenger over some baseline amount.