January 11, 2012 By Rachel Klein Fodor’s Editor

New Rules for Airlines

The last of bait-and-switch airfare pricing may finally be upon us. At least, that’s what several new regulations going into effect by the end of January suggest. The biggest news is that all those hidden taxes and fees that increase an advertised $59 one-way fare to Florida up to $112—or $224 round-trip after all is said and done—will now need to be shown upfront, rather than at the end of the booking process. Equally appealing, passengers will also be allowed to change their reservations for free within 24 hours of booking, ending the scourge of rebooking fees.

But a handful of airlines—specifically discount carriers—think that the rule will mean losing customers and revenue. Spirit Airlines andSouthwest Airlines have filed for a court appeal, although it’s unlikely this will cause a delay in the new mandates taking effect.

In addition, travelers will see additional charges for baggage up front when booking online, and can pay in advance of arriving at the airport.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is putting the reservations and baggage rules into effect on January 24, 2012, and is telling airlines that they must disclose taxes on fares beginning on January 26, 2012.

For travelers, it’s clearly a big win, as few things are more frustrating when planning a trip than airline ticket sticker shock.

Photo credit: GA161076 / iStockphoto