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Supreme Court Upholds Passenger Rights

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The Supreme Court has now guaranteed that the fare you see advertised is the fare that you will pay. Yesterday, our nation’s highest court declined to hear Spirit Airlines v. U.S. Department of Transportation, 12-656.

For the last year, Spirit, along with Allegiant Air and Southwest Airlines, has been fighting the DOT ruling that required airlines to advertise fares inclusive of tax. This ruling further required that the total cost of the air ticket be shown in the largest font at the most prominent place on an airline website.  However, an airline can still show a fare independent of taxes and fees, as long as this information is not as prominently presented.

Spirit argued that the DOT ruling violated its right to free speech.  According to their argument, the DOT ruling prevented airlines from drawing a meaningful distinction between the cost of the fare and the government tax burden on airlines.

The DOT ruling further protects consumers by instating a 24-hour period after a flight reservation during which travelers can change his or her mind without penalty. This regulation is not valid for last-minute flights 7 days before departure.

Spirit pursued this case to the Supreme Court having been rejected by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. However, yesterday the Supreme Court denied to hear this case, guaranteeing that the DOT ruling will remain in effect.

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By Lily J. Kosner for