New Air Travel Rules Cover Fees, Lost Luggage, Bumping, Delays

By Paul Riegler on 22 August 2011
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New Department of Transportation regulations covering fees, lost luggage, involuntary bumping, and tarmac delays go into effect tomorrow and are good news for the business traveler.  The rules were first announced in April.

Starting August 23, 2011, the rules require that airlines

  • Disclose all potential fees and charges (such as for checking bags, purchasing meals, cancelling or changing a flight, and upgrading a seat) on their Web sites.
  • Refund any baggage fees received for lost luggage in addition to compensating travelers for lost, damaged, or delayed baggage.
  • Apply the same baggage allowances and fees for all segments of a trip, including those with code-share and interline partners.
  • Increase compensation for those passengers involuntarily bumped from a flight.  Passengers delayed for up to two hours are entitled to twice the ticket price, up to $650, and those delayed longer are entitled to as much as four times the ticket value, with a limit of $1,300.

In addition, the existing ban on lengthy tarmac delays has been expanded to cover foreign airlines operating at U.S. airports.  Going forward, a maximum of four hours on the tarmac is allowed (airlines must provide food and water after two hours) with exceptions allowed only in cases relating to safety, security, or air traffic control-related issues.

Starting January 24, 2012, additional regulations will require airlines to

  • Allow customers to put a reservation on hold without payment for 24 hours and to change or cancel reservations within 24 hours without a penalty (provided that the reservation was made at least one week prior to departure).
  • Notify all passengers of any cancellations, diversions, and delays of more than 30 minutes.
  • Disclose all government taxes and fees in the advertised fare price.

These rules were originally scheduled to go into effect this month but were delayed to allow more time to implement them.

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