Early in the pandemic, many travelers experienced headaches while trying to rebook air travel purchased through third parties such as Orbitz and Kayak. Overloaded customer service centers and constantly changing airline policies resulted in a big mess at these agencies, prompting many travelers to book directly through the airline to avoid future issues.

Yet as the dust settles on the pandemic and travel begins to return to normal, air passengers are experiencing a different reality: Booking directly through airlines involves navigating a maze of fees, add-on offers and confusing seat selection choices. The resulting price at checkout is often higher — much higher — than the advertised price.

The issue has become so problematic that even President Biden has joined the fray. “You should know the full cost of your ticket, right when you’re comparison shopping ,” he said in a press conference announcing a new Department of Transportation initiative to force airlines to disclose these fees. “So you can pick the ticket that is actually the best deal for you.”

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