Airline Passenger Protection for Lost Bags, Bumped Flights

Apr 21st, 2011 | By | Category: Travel

The US Department of Transportation announced new airline passenger protection changes Wednesday that provide increased safeguards for consumers. The new rule will require reimbursement for lost bag fees, greater compensation for bumped flights, disclosure of hidden fees, and greater prohibitions against lengthy tarmac delays.

“Airline passengers have a right to be treated fairly,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “It’s just common sense that if an airline loses your bag or you get bumped from a flight because it was oversold, you should be reimbursed. The additional passenger protections we’re announcing today will help make sure air travelers are treated with the respect they deserve.”

Under the new rule:

  • Lost bag carrying fees must be paid for by airlines. Airlines must also compensate passengers for reasonable expenses due to baggage loss, damage, or delay, and must apply the same baggage allowances and fees for all trip segments.
  • Passengers bumped involuntarily from oversold flights can now receive double the price of their tickets up to $650 for short delays, and four times the price of their tickets up to $1,300 for long delays.
  • Hidden fees must be disclosed online and referred to by airline and ticket agents. This includes fees for baggage, meals, canceling or changing reservations, advanced or upgraded seating, and government taxes and fees.
  • Tarmac delay prohibitions previously imposed on domestic airlines now also apply to foreign airlines operating at US airports. Delays are limited to four hours except in case of specific emergencies, and after two hours passengers must be provided with adequate food, water, lavatories, and medical treatment.

T44 Airport 300x252 Airline Passenger Protection for Lost Bags, Bumped FlightsThe new rule also includes other provisions for simplifying air travel, such as requiring airlines to hold reservations at the quoted fare without payment or cancel them without penalty for at least 24 hours, if the reservation is made at least a week prior to departure.

In response to the announcement, Air Transportation Association President and CEO Nicholas E. Cailo said, “We share the DOT goal of continuously improving the customer experience and our member airlines will implement the new rules as efficiently as possible.”

The changes will cost airlines an estimated $30.7 million over 10 years. Most of that will come from complying with new regulations for fee disclosure, advertising, and extension of the tarmac-delay provision to foreign carriers.

Most of the new rule’s provisions will go into effect 120 days after the rule’s publication in the Federal Register. The final rule, proposed rule and comments can be viewed online at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2010-0140.

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