How often have you booked and paid for flights for you or your family, only to learn that the actual cost of your trip is far higher once you factor-in all the extra fees?
On Wednesday, with the summer travel season just weeks away, the Department of Transportation proposed new rules that would require airlines and travel websites to disclose those fees up-front.
Here are five takeaways from the new plan.
1. No More Hidden Charges
All fees to check a bag, carry-on a bag, board early, or buy a seat with extra legroom would need to be revealed before a customer buys a ticket, to help consumers make smarter choices.
2. Code-Share Partner Transparency
If you book a flight on an airline that has relationships with other airlines, then you should be told which one is actually flying the route.
3. No Penalty for Canceled Reservations
A reservation made within 24 hours could be canceled up to a week before departure, without penalty.
4. The New Rules Apply to Travel Websites, Too
For the first time, online travel booking websites would be required to disclose their fees upfront -- much like ticket agents.
5. DOT's Proposed Changes Could Be Enacted Soon
If the Obama administration's new passenger rights rules are approved, they could take effect within a year. But the airline industry is now warning the rules would likely lead to higher ticket prices.
First published May 21 2014, 1:59 PM
Tom Costello is an NBC News correspondent based in Washington, DC. He reports daily for the TODAY Show, NBC Nightly News, NBC News Radio, MSNBC and CNBC. In 2013, he was the most-used correspondent on any broadcast network evening news program. His portfolio of beats includes transportation, consumer and regulatory issues, NASA, business and economics.
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Since 2005, Costello has been NBCâ€™s lead aviation correspondent. Among the major aviation stories heâ€™s covered: the crash of Asiana flight 214 in San Francisco; Air France 447 over the Atlantic; Colgan Air flight 3407 in Buffalo; Comair 5191 in Lexington; and the Miracle on the Hudson landing in 2009 for which NBC News was honored with a prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award and a National Emmy Award for Breaking News Coverage.
In 2008, Costello led NBC's Emmy award-winning coverage of the Financial Bailout Talks in Congress. But he insists his favorite stories involve ordinary people living extraordinary lives.
Former NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert brought Costello to the DC bureau in 2005. Previously, he was based at NBC News headquarters in New York.
From 1996 to 2004, Costello worked at CNBC Business News. He was on duty as CNBCâ€™s Nasdaq Correspondent in Manhattan when terrorists attacked on 9/11. From 1996-1999, he reported from London for both CNBC and NBC News, covering Europe's monetary union, the financial markets and the death of Princess Diana, among his many stories.
His assignments have taken him around the world -- from the terrorist bombings in Madrid, to the Korean DMZ, the Persian Gulf, Russia, Kazakhstan, Japan, Central America, Eastern and Western Europe.
Before joining CNBC, Costello contributed to Financial Times TV and CNN in Brussels, Belgium while also earning a master's degree. He spent six years at KUSA-TV in Denver, and two years at KVIA-TV in El Paso, TX. Heâ€™s honored to have been on the teams that have won National and Regional Emmys, a DuPont-Columbia Journalism Award, Edward R. Murrow honors, Sigma Delta Chi Awards, National Headliner honors, Best of Gannett, and Best Reporting honors from the Associated Press.
Costello holds a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a master's degree in Administration/International Commerce from Boston Universityâ€™s Brussels Graduate Center. He is married to Astrid Boon of Kortenberg, Belgium, and has two children.