Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Passenger Protections Effective 8/23/11

(image credit: juseppe90/flickr)
In April the U.S. Department of Transportation issued new airline passenger protections that will help passengers from the booking online to the airport experience. Here are the highlights. All changes are effective August 23, 2011.

Lost Bags and Bag Fees:  Airlines will now be required to refund any fees for carrying a bag if the bag is lost. This rule only affects lost bags and not applicable to delayed bags.

Full Disclosure of Additional Fees: Airlines will also have to prominently disclose all potential fees on their websites, including but not limited to fees for baggage, meals, canceling or changing reservations. Expect to see the full disclose of other fees such those in reference to children and pets. This rule only affects the websites and not necessarily requires the airline to clearly display the fee schedule at the airport.

Bumping: The new rule doubles the amount of money passengers are eligible to receive in the event they are involuntarily bumped. If passengers are bumped and the airline gets them to their destination within a short period of time (1 to 2 hours of their original arrival time on domestic flights; 1 to 4 hours on international flights), the compensation is equal to the double the price of their ticket up to $650 in lieu of $400. For lengthy delays (over 2 hours from the original arrival time on domestic; 4 hours international), the payment is four times the value of their ticket up to $1,300.

The unfortunate aspect is these payments do not begin to make up for the lost cost for hotels, tours, cruises or even lost time from work.

(image credit: superops/flickr)
Tarmac Delays: Click here to see the post about domestic tarmac delays. The new rule expands the ban on lengthy delays to cover foreign airlines operating at U.S. airports and establishes a four hour time limit on tarmac delays for international flights of U.S. and foreign airlines. Carriers must also ensure that passengers stuck on the tarmac are provided adequate food and water after two hours, working lavatories and necessary medical treatment.

The delays experienced by passengers on foreign carriers stuck at New York's JFK Airport during the December 2010 blizzard was an important factor for this provision.

Other Changes: Among them includes notifying passengers of delays overs 30 minutes, cancellations and diversions. This must take place in the boarding gate area, on the carrier's telephone reservation system and on its website.

The experience of flying is still far from the storied past glory days of jet age but these rules should help qualm some of the potential problems for passengers. Read the complete press release at


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