Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced new rules that expand the rights of airline passengers. Here’s a summary of the regulations, effective August 23, 2011:
- Passengers can modify or cancel reservations within twenty-fours (from booking the reservations) without having to pay a penalty fee (provided the reservation is made at least one week before departure time).
- Passengers who are bumped from flights and then delayed for two hours or less must be compensated at twice the price of the ticket, up to $800.
- Passengers who are bumped from flights and then delayed longer than two hours are entitled to receive up to $1300 in compensation.
- Airlines are required to immediately notify passengers of cancellations, diversions and delays over thirty minutes.
- Airlines must refund any baggage fees for lost bags (in addition to the current requirement to compensate passengers for lost or damaged belongings).
- Foreign airlines will be fined (up to $27,500 per passenger) for keeping travelers on the tarmac at U.S. airports for longer than four hours. This is an extension of a law introduced last summer that fines domestic carriers for tarmac delays exceeding three hours.
- Airlines must display all potential fees on their websites. Examples include fees for baggage check, reservation changes, upgrades and taxes.
According to this Wall Street Journal article, DOT plans to impose more requirements on airlines operating outside the U.S.
Passengers, are you happy with these new rules? What would you propose to further improve passenger rights?