Airline critics believe that a new policy that raises the fares for passengers who book multi-stop trips is evidence of collusion between the nation’s biggest carriers.
Whether airlines are conspiring in violation of federal laws or not, the change means airline travelers must pay two to three times as much for a single ticket with several stops than they would for multiple one-way tickets.
The U.S. Justice Department had already confirmed last summer that it is investigating whether some of the nation’s airlines have conspired to keep fares high while limiting new routes and added seats.
“It seems to me that the nation’s big airlines are working in concert to deceive and cheat the flying public,” said Menendez, the ranking member of the Senate Banking subcommittee on housing, transportation and community development.
American Airlines spokesman Josh Freed said the carrier simply closed a loophole that previously let passengers string together several one-way tickets in a way that was not intended by the airlines.
In a statement, United Airlines echoed Freed’s explanation. Delta Air Lines declined to comment.
Both American and United denied that the changes were made in concert with rival carriers.
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