President Joe Biden took swipes at airlines and hotels Wednesday as he called on Congress to limit certain extra charges they impose on consumers.
“These unfair fees add up,” he said, speaking just before a meeting of the White House Competition Committee.
Biden said Congress should restrict airline seat-assignment fees imposed on families trying to sit together, so-called resort fees that many hotels now tack on to the bill, excessive service charges on tickets for concerts and sporting events, and fees to switch or cancel internet, cable or cellphone service.
“Some airlines charge extra to pick your seat, including for parents who just want to sit next to their child on a plane,” Biden said. “They charge extra — you don't know that going in though — and it's wrong.”
A spokeswoman for Airlines for America, a trade group that represents the largest U.S. carriers, said its members — including American, United, Delta and Southwest — don't charge family-seating fees, although some budget airlines do.
The larger airlines “make every effort to accommodate customers traveling together, especially those traveling with children, without additional charges, and consumers are offered a range of choices at the time of ticket purchase, including various seating options,” said the spokeswoman, Marli Collier.
Congress previously told the Transportation Department to review airline seating policies and consider how to ensure that children under 14 sit with an older family member at no extra cost. The department issued guidance last July urging airlines to do so “to the maximum extent practicable.”
Biden also took aim at hotels for adding resort fees, “which can be over $50 a night, when you check out.”
A spokesman for the American Hotel and Lodging Association said 94% of hotels don’t charge resort fees. For those that do, “it covers unique and tangible amenities such as food and beverage credits, special events, access to pools and beaches, transportation and spa services,” said the spokesman, Curt Cashour.
On ticket fees, Democrats and Republicans on a Senate committee called last week for more transparency after Ticketmaster scrapped a general-public sale for Taylor Swift concerts.
Separately, Biden touted a proposed new regulation from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that he said would limit credit-card late fees from $31 on average to $8.
The White House contends that legislation approved during the Obama administration lets the bureau regulate excessive credit card fees, while Biden's other proposals would need congressional approval, which could be difficult because of opposition from business interests.
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