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New Air Travel Protections in the Works

I used to love the convenience of flying, but it seems like every time I check in the process gets more convoluted. Instead of a credit card swipe and a quick confirmation, I’m hit with a hundred different ways to spend money, from sneaky “extra leg room” upgrades to surprise checked baggage fees. Add in the chance of an overbooked flight, a hefty cancelation fee, or three hours on the tarmac, and you can go pretty quickly from getaway to “get me out of here.” But don’t worry, faithful travelers—help might be on the way!

Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed a new set of consumer protections for airline travelers—thus making DOT my favorite government organization of all time. Seriously. Not only are they already enforcing rules limiting tarmac and flight delays, but they’re stepping it up with a whole new batch of flyer-friendly regulations. Here are my absolute favorites:

  • Better compensation for bumped travelers. Overbooked flights can be a nightmare—especially if you’re traveling with kids in tow. But DOT’s new proposal promises to soften the blow by increasing compensation by up to $500 per passenger. Not a bad deal for bumped flyers!
  • Clear communication about baggage fees. No more sticker shock. Under new guidelines, airlines would be required to provide special notice any time bag fees were increased. The basics would be made more clear as well, with ticket buyers being informed upfront about the cost of checking bags.
  • Cancelation within 24 hours of purchase without penalty. Yes, I’ve booked a flight on the wrong date before—and I know I’m not alone. This new rule would allow you to cancel any flight booked within the past 24 hours without incurring a penalty fee.

 

DOT’s other regulations would increase the number of carriers required to have tarmac delay contingency plans, create safer flights for travelers with severe peanut allergies, and ban post-purchase price increases on tickets. You can check out their summary of proposals for more detail. Want to show your support of DOT’s new proposals? Vote on the issues that matter most to you using Cornell’s nifty “Regulation Rules” site. Have a rule of your own you’d love to add? Leave your proposal in the comments!

 

Image: “Blue with airplanes” by fluffysam.

Kate

My name: Kate Beall

How I earn my keep: Writing for Travelocity.

Best meal I've ever had: There are three: the mofongo at Jimmy'z Kitchen in South Beach, the lomito completo at Fuente Alemana in Santiago, and (for the sheer novelty factor) the cuy chactado in Arequipa, Peru.

First thing I do in a new place: Hit the shower. Anything more than an hour in transit gets me fantasizing about soap.

View that took my breath away: Seeing the endless stretch of the Sierras as I flew in to Reno/Tahoe for the first time. In the winter, it's an aching field of white all the way to the horizon, like a world wiped clean. Looking out at it gives you this unmatched feeling of eternity.

Most challenging travel moment: Sharing a pull-out couch in a cramped New York apartment. The heat wave of 2010 was in full, humid swing and the air conditioning was D.O.A. There was nothing to do but soak your clothes in the sink and hope to pass out before they dried. ...then wake up in an hour and do it all again.

Favorite way to get around: On foot. I'm still working on the motorcycle license.

Comments

Susan Kennedy
Reply

How some airlines try to wriggle out of their responsibilities is shocking. For instance airlines planning to sue European governments for shutting down airspace (FOR SAFETY REASONS!)after the Iceland volcano… FFS!

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