British Airways lowered its fuel surcharge by as much as a third on long-haul flights. U.S. airlines haven't yet followed in lowering the surcharges, which reached $300 and even higher during the days of $147 a barrel oil last summer, and remain there still, even with oil hovering in the low $40s.
On coach fares for flights over nine hours, British Airways reduced the surcharge by $45 to $141 per flight. For first class and business class service on flights over nine hours, the surcharge was reduced by $52 to $205.
So far, there has been no indication that U.S. airlines will drop the surcharges, which can significantly add to the cost of an international fare. The charges especially irk corporate travel managers because they are generally applied on top of negotiated fares for volume corporate business, with no discounts.
U.S. passengers sometimes find it difficult to sort through the fine print on fees and taxes in airline fare contracts to identify the fuel surcharge.
In Washington yesterday, Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, introduced a bill that would require carriers and ticket brokers to provide more clear and more timely information to passengers about taxes, fees, charges, fuel surcharges, and fees for services.
The bill states in part, "... it shall be an unfair or deceptive practice ... for any air carrier ... or ticket broker--`(A) to display the price of a ticket for air transportation without simultaneously displaying all taxes, fees, charges, and fuel surcharges ... or (B) to fail to provide an online purchaser of a ticket for air transportation with information, including the amount and description, of each tax, fee, charge, and fuel surcharge applicable to such ticket before requiring such purchaser to provide any personal information, including name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and credit card information."
It adds that " ... it shall be an unfair or deceptive practice ... for any air carrier ... (A) to fail to provide an online purchaser of a ticket for air transportation with information regarding fees for checked baggage, seating assignments, and optional in-flight goods and services; or (B) to increase the price of a ticket for air transportation through a fuel surcharge that is not correlated to the price of fuel paid by the air carrier or the amount of fuel used by such air carrier for such air transportation.' ..."
Any day now, we'll be hearing from the airline industry squealing about that.