Expedia Gets it Right: Site to Show Hidden Airfare Fees

Expedia will now show what your airfare actually includes and whether you’ll have to pay extra for seat assignments, checked baggage, and more. (Photo: Thinkstock/Patryk Kosmider)

Expedia has announced new changes to its site that will help make complicated airfares even more transparent soon. The booking site — which also owns Travelocity, Orbitz, and Hotwire — will use a new search tool to show baggage fees, seat fees, and other hidden flight fees right up front.

Thanks to a Department of Transportation rule instituted in 2012, airlines and online travel agencies like Expedia (OTAs) are already required to disclose the full amount of a fare including taxes and fees. But because of the wide range of branded cabin class distinctions that exist nowadays (Bare, Basic, Economy, Premium Economy, Economy Plus, etc.), you could never really tell at a glance whether the low fare you nabbed was so cheap because you possess really savvy shopping skills, or because you’d end up having to pay a bunch of surprise fees for a seat assignment, snacks, checked luggage, inflight entertainment, and more.

Now you’ll be able to see all of that. The roll-out, which began yesterday with info from partner airlines Delta in the U.S. and Airberlin in Europe, is called “Upgrade Options” and displays ancillary fees, including change and cancellation penalties.

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A screenshot from Expedia shows how ancillary fees will be displayed. Delta is the first U.S. airline to share this information with the booking site. (Photo: Expedia.com)

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Expedia’s new system will eventually include a baggage calculator that compares different airlines’ fees, a way to determine frequent-flier seat-upgrade availability, and a fare prediction tool. Expect to see the new flight search tools on Travelocity, Orbitz, and Hotwire too.

Of course, it all depends on how many airlines want to share this information with Expedia. Maybe they’ll charge a fee for it?

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