Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Airline Passenger Rights Implemented

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s latest set of rules and regulations will go into effect on Tuesday. The new airline rules are comprehensively pro-traveller and seek to reduce airport tarmac delays, further compensate bumped passengers, and make additional fees more transparent.

Under the new regulations, international flights operated by domestic and international airlines in the US will face steep fines if found waiting on the tarmac for more than four hours.

Travellers who are involuntarily bumped from their flights will now be entitled to much more compensation. If the carrier is not able to offer alternative flights within two hours for domestic travel and four hours for international flights, then the airline is legally responsible to offer a compensation of four times the value of ticket up to $1,300. In the past, travellers were only authorized to collect up to $800 for such an inconvenience. With the move, DOT hopes to put a damper on the practise of overbooking. Overbooking mostly impacts passengers with cheap flight tickets as they are the ones who are asked to vacate seats in favour of ‘rich’ travellers. Now with such a massive compensation to pay, it will be very unlikely that airlines will try to bump passengers who have cheap tickets on flights.

Under new guidelines, carriers are also required to refund baggage fees in case of a lost luggage. The rule doesn’t necessitate a bag-fee refund if the baggage is delayed.

The new rules are the latest in the government’s push to expand passenger rights. Some more regulations are set to go into effect in 2012.

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