Consumers received some good news this week as the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a set of sweeping protections for airline passengers.
Among the key components:
- Disclosing fares and fees. Airlines and other ticket sellers will be required to disclose all fees, including baggage charges. All fees and taxes must be included in advertising.
- Refunding baggage fees. Airlines will be required to refund those fees if your bags are lost.
- Extending tarmac delay rules. The DOT's 2009 ruling on extended tarmac delays is being strengthened and expanded. The current regulation requires domestic flights to return to the gate after three hours, and passengers must be provided with adequate food, water, working lavatories, and medical treatment. This rule will now include U.S. carriers operating international flights, as well as foreign airlines operating out of U.S. airports.
- Compensation for bumping. If you are involuntarily bumped from a flight, new regs will provide increased compensation, in some cases doubling the current amounts.
- Limiting fare increases. Airlines will not be allowed to raise your fare after you’ve purchased your ticket.
There are other provisions, as well. Complete details are available here.
On his Fast Lane blog, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated, “Protecting passengers is the right thing to do. It’s just that simple. And DOT will continue to create and enforce rules that protect your rights before, during and after flights.”
Through our participation on the DOT’s Future of Aviation Advisory Committee and the public comments we filed last year in response to the department’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Consumers Union strongly supported many of these measures and recommended full disclosure of pricing and fees. Consumers Union has commended Secretary LaHood for his pro-passenger initiatives.
Most provisions of the new rules will take effect in 120 days, on Aug. 18.
—William J. McGee