Flying Just Got Friendlier

Flying Just Got Friendlier

New consumer protections for airline passengers take effect

New consumer protections for airline passengers established by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) went into effect this month, making flying more convenient and hassle-free for air travelers nationwide.

The new consumer protections, finalized earlier this year, include requirements that airlines refund baggage fees if bags are lost, increase compensation provided to passengers bumped from oversold flights, and provide passengers greater protections from lengthy tarmac delays.

As Kate Hanni of said, “It’s huge. If you’re flying, you’re 400% better off than you were before.”

Here are some of the common-sense ways we’re looking out for passengers under these new protections:

  • If you are involuntarily bumped from an oversold flight, the new rules double the amount of money you are eligible for as compensation.
  • DOT’s successful ban on lengthy tarmac delays will now cover the international flights of foreign airlines at U.S. airports, and domestic flights at small-hub and non-hub airports.
  • If your bag is lost, you are entitled to a refund of any fee for carrying that bag. Airlines are already required to compensate passengers for reasonable expenses for loss, damage or delay in the carriage of passenger baggage.
  • Airlines must prominently disclose all optional fees on their websites, including but not limited to fees for baggage, meals, canceling or changing reservations, or advanced or upgraded seating.

Additional measures under the new rule will take effect January 24, 2012, including:

  • Requiring all taxes and fees to be included in advertised fares.
  • Banning post-purchase price increases.
  • Allowing passengers to hold a reservation without payment, or to cancel it without penalty, for 24 hours after the reservation is made, if the reservation is made one week or more prior to a flight’s departure date.
  • Requiring disclosure of baggage fees when passengers book a flight.
  • Requiring that the same baggage allowances and fees apply throughout a passenger’s journey.
  • Requiring disclosure of baggage fee information on e-ticket confirmations.
  • Requiring prompt notification of delays of over 30 minutes, as well as cancellations and diversions.

The Department of Transportation’s new passenger protections will help ensure that air travelers receive the respect they deserve before, during and after their flight.

Written by Lisa Codianne Fowler; reprinted from (c) 2011.

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