Will new airline regulations help passengers — or hurt airlines?

At 36,361 words, the document laying out the latest proposed Transportation Department passenger protection rule is an epic, a few pages longer than Franz Kafka’s novella “The Metamorphosis.”
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Are new airline fee disclosure rules any good?

Search for a flight between Washington and Los Angeles on United.com and you’ll find a notice posted high above the fares saying, “Additional baggage charges may apply.”

On the Delta Air Lines site, a query for flights from Baltimore to Memphis yields a similar warning — albeit in slightly smaller type — that “there may be additional fees for your carry-on/checked baggage.”

And on USAirways.com, a check for flights between Philadelphia and Phoenix reveals a disclaimer at the top of the screen: “Does not include taxes and optional fees. Checked baggage fees may apply.”

None of this may look like a big deal to you, but it is. Because there’s big money at stake. The domestic airlines raked in $3.3 billion in luggage fees last year, an increase of more than half a billion dollars over 2009.
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