According to President Biden,
Some airlines, if you want six more inches between you and the seat in front, you pay more money but you don’t know it until you purchase your ticket. Look folks, these are junk fees, they’re unfair and they hit marginalized Americans the hardest, especially low income folks and people of color.
Biden: "Some airlines, if you want six more inches between you and the seat in front, you pay more money but you don't know it … these are junk fees, they're unfair and they hit marginalized Americans the hardest, especially … people of color." pic.twitter.com/u8IbCqpRZG
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) October 26, 2022
Airlines generally make sure you do know about opportunities to purchase extra legroom seats, and buy ups to first class, before you complete your ticket purchase. They want to upsell you. Online travel agencies do a poor job serving the interests of consumers, though even they are being dragged along by the airlines to generate ancillary revenue along with tickets sales.
The Department of Transportation has proposed new rules over airline fee disclosure. Airlines and travel agencies (including online travel agencies) will be required to display passenger- and itinerary-specific fees. Airlines will have to provide those fees in a format usable by agencies. But what the rule actually does is quite different than the press release, and needs significant improvement before any final rule is adopted.
However the notion that airlines even sell seats with six extra inches of legroom on many domestic flights, as the President suggests, is fanciful. Three inches is far more common. Airline passengers skew quite well off, relatively few marginalized Americans fly regularly. It seems odd to suggest that they are disproportionately harmed (or, for that matter, that they are buying up to extra legroom seats).