Categorized | Airlines

New rules for airlines kick in this week to protect fliers…

Posted on 22 August 2011

New federal rules designed to prevent long tarmac delays for international passengers, provide greater compensation if fliers are bumped off flights and make airlines better disclose extra fees take effect on Tuesday.

  • A plane sits at a gate at Orlando International Airport. 


A plane sits at a gate at Orlando International Airport.

The consumer protection rules, from the Transportation Department, will:


•Let the department impose fines on U.S. and foreign airlines of up to $27,500 per passenger if they leave an international flight on a tarmac for more than four hours without taking off.


•Raise compensation if passengers are bumped from an oversold flight. They’d get double the price of their tickets up to $650 if their arrival at their destination is delayed just a few hours. Currently, compensation is equal to the ticket value, up to $400. Longer delays would trigger payments of four times the value of their tickets, up to $1,300. Currently, that compensation is capped at $800.


•Require airlines to prominently disclose all ancillary fees on their websites, including fees for checking bags, providing meals and canceling reservations.


Consumer advocates praise the new rules. The airlines, however, say more government regulations can hinder operations.


“I think the new rules on balance are good and sweeping,” says Kevin Mitchell, chairman of Business Travel Coalition.


But Steve Lott, spokesman for the Air Transport Association that represents major carriers, says, “Market forces, not additional regulations, are already providing customer benefits.”


The Transportation Department had proposed more rules. But the airlines complained they’d need more time to adapt to them. The department agreed to delay the following provisions until Jan. 24. The provisions require airlines to:


•Promptly notify passengers at the boarding gate, on airline websites and via their phone reservation systems of flight cancellations and delays of more than 30 minutes.


•Allow customers to cancel reservations without payment for at least 24 hours if they’re made at least a week before departure.


•Include all government taxes and fees in advertised fares. Airlines typically exclude them.


•Not raise a fare after a ticket has been bought unless it’s a result of government taxes and fees and the flier agrees to any increase.

Source: USA Today

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