Rules for advertising vacation packages are changing effective January 26, 2012. Beginning on this date, the Department of Transportation has required that all sellers of U.S. air transportation advertise the “entire price to be paid by the customer for that transportation, air tour or an air tour component”.
What does this mean to you? Effective January 26, 2012 all Apple Vacations’ advertised pricing will change. The price you see in our advertisements will be the complete cost of the vacation including all taxes and fees associated to the airfare. You will still have the opportunity to add “Apple Extras” to your vacation that can increase your overall vacation price, however, that choice is strictly up to you! Apple Vacations offers a wide variety of “extras” to enhance your vacation experience including: AV-O.K. Total Vacation Security Plan, Preferred Perks Plus (where available) and numerous resort and destination specific excursions.
A special note to Travel Agents
Any advertising you, as a Travel Agent, place in the market using prices from our website, quoted from our reservation system or taken from our advertisements (emails, website, newspaper ads, faxes, radio ads, etc.) are bound by the same DOT regulations and penalties including any additional services fee you add.
Below are the Final Rules as stated by the DOT.
1. Full Fare Advertising
Change in Enforcement Policy – The DOT has mandated that “any advertised price for air transportation, an air tour or an air tour component must be the entire price to be paid by the customer for that transportation, tour or tour component”. However, the DOT’s enforcement policy includes a provision permitting a seller of air transportation to break-out these charges while still displaying the total price to be paid by the consumer. A separate statement of these taxes and fees must not be false or misleading, must be provided on a per passenger basis and must accurately reflect the cost of the charge to the carrier and may not be prominently displayed.
Please be advised that there are some taxes and fees that are not collected as part of an airfare and are payable at the airport upon arrival or departure based on destination, including but not limited to the following:
Antigua: $28.00 per person departure tax
Costa Rica: $28.00 per person departure tax
Dominican Republic: $10.00 per person tourist card fee
2. Opt-Out Provisions
The DOT has prohibited “opt-out” provisions by sellers of air transportation. “Opt-out” provisions involve situations where a consumer is purchasing air travel or an air tour package online and certain fees for ancillary services or products are pre-selected for the consumer and added to the total price to be paid by the consumer at the end of the transaction (i.e. travel insurance). Under this rule, an optional service can be added to the total price to be paid the by consumer only if the consumer affirmatively agrees to pay a fee for such service, i.e. by checking a box for that service.
Please be aware this applies to Apple Vacations’ AV-O.K. Total Vacation Security Plan. Apple Vacations has previously included this protection for you, but effective 01/26/2012, we are no longer pre-selecting the AV-O.K. Total Vacation Security Plan option. So please be aware, if you want to purchase our AV-O.K. Total Vacation Security Plan, you must “check the box” or you will not have protection.
3. Disclosing Baggage Fees
In this final rule, the DOT requires air carriers and ticket agents (tour operators, wholesalers and travel agents) to inform passengers on the first screen in which the ticket agent or carrier offers a fare quotation for a specific itinerary selected by a consumer that additional airline fees for baggage may apply, and where consumers can go to see these baggage fees. This notification on the website must be clear and prominent. To comply with this requirement, ticket agents can choose between referring consumers to their own site where the baggage fees are displayed or to the airline websites where specific information may be obtained.
Apple Vacations will link you directly to the air carrier’s website for information on baggage fees. When you select your itinerary, a link will be displayed under the air carrier, “Check Air Carrier Baggage Policies”. This link will direct you to the air carrier’s website to review their baggage fee policy. Please review the baggage policy for the air carrier you are traveling on in advance of making your purchase so you will know exactly how much you will pay in baggage fees for your vacation.
4. Baggage Fees and E-tickets
DOT will require air carriers and ticket agents (tour operators, wholesalers and travel agents) that advertise or sell air transportation in the United States to provide information on e-ticket confirmations regarding the passenger’s free baggage allowance and/or the applicable fee for a carry-on bag and the first and second checked bag. Air carriers are required to include up to date information in text form within the e-ticket confirmation, ticket agents may provide a hyperlink to the specific location on air carrier’s website where this information is displayed.
When viewing your Apple Vacations electronic confirmation, you will see hyperlinks to the baggage fee information on the left hand side. The “Airline Contact Information” link will bring you to the air carrier’s baggage policy page.
5. Pre and Post Purchase Price Increases
The DOT has prohibited sellers of U.S. air transportation from increasing the price of air transportation, tour or tour component after purchase (“purchase” is defined as to have occurred when the full amount agreed upon has been paid by the consumer), except in the case of government imposed taxes or fees. This does not restrict ticket agents from increasing the price of air transportation, tour or tour component prior to full payment being applied to a record of including but not limited to, an increase in the price of the seat, an increase in the price for the carriage of the passenger baggage, an increase in the applicable fuel surcharge, or an increase in a government imposed tax or fee. Change Fees do not constitute an increase in the price of an already purchased ticket, as technically the consumer is purchasing a new ticket for new travel.
All of these advertising and consumer protection changes have been mandated by the DOT. Apple Vacations will market the complete price of the package including all pre-collected government taxes and fees with every air ticket or air/hotel package. To view the complete regulation from the DOT, please consult: www.dot.gov.