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San Francisco, CA – Today new Department of Transportation (DoT) regulations go into place which will now protect consumers from unpopular airline practices such as hiding ticket costs and holding passengers on the tarmac for long periods of time. The CALPIRG voiced its support for the new regulations protecting airline travelers.
“These common sense rules will make passengers’ rights a priority, improve airline practices, and ultimately benefit everyone who flies” noted Jon Fox, Consumer Advocate with CALPIRG .
The new government regulations will roll out in two phases with the first taking effect today covering the following:
1. Tarmac delays for international flights, by both domestic and foreign carriers, will fall in line with domestic flight rules and be limited to no more than four hours after which time the plane must return to a gate. In the event of tarmac delays on international flights, airlines will be required to provide passengers with regular status updates, food, water, and access to the lavatories.
2. Transparent pricing. Airlines will be required to disclose the full cost of an airline ticket at the moment of purchase, including all additional fees such as checked baggage, meals, premium seating, and cancellation charges. This new rule will allow consumers to compare “apples to apples” when looking at different ticket offers and avoid surprises and hidden costs.
3. Over-booking flights. In order to discourage the common airline practice of over booking flights, new regulations significantly increase the cost of “bumping” passengers from flights. If passengers suffer only a short delay before arriving at their destination due to being involuntarily “bumped” off a flight, they will receive double the price of their ticket (up to $650). If a passenger suffers more significant delay as a result of being “bumped,” compensation could be as high as four times the airfare up to $1,300, an increase from the current maximum of $800. Passengers who are involuntarily “bumped” off a flight will also be entitled to on-the-spot cash compensation rather than vouchers for future flights.
“Passengers should use the new airline penalties as leverage when negotiating compensation for being ‘voluntarily bumped’ off flights” Jon Fox suggested.
4. Checked luggage fees will be reimbursed in the case of permanently lost (but not delayed) luggage.
“This may not improve the rate of luggage loss, but at least these new regulations will remove the insult of having to pay for the “privilege” of having one’s luggage lost,” said Jon Fox.
In January 2012 further regulations will take effect allowing consumers 24 hours to cancel non-refundable tickets, compelling airlines to provide timely notification of delays and cancellations, locking in airfares after purchase, and requiring carriers to display all government taxes and fees associated with a flight ticket.
“It’s a shame that the federal government needed to pass rules to get the airlines to behave sensibly and treat travelers fairly” said Jon Fox.
For more information contact:
Jon Fox, CALPIRG Consumer Advocate
Office: (415) 622 0039 x309
The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) is a result-oriented public interest group that protects consumers, encourages a fair sustainable economy, and fosters responsive democratic governance.
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