DOT Unveils New Protection Rules on Airline Fees, Delays

Posted Apr 20th 2011 10:30 AMUpdated Apr 21st 2011 11:31 AM


airline delays

bmhkim, flickr

The U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a series of new consumer protection measures that will force airlines to disclose hidden fees, double compensation for passengers that are bumped from flights and require carriers to refund extra bag fees when luggage is lost.

The Department of Transportation will also extend the ban on lengthy tarmac delays to include foreign carriers.

The new measures, which officially go into effect on Aug. 23, come about 16 months after a December 2009 rule change that forced airlines to end the practice of stranding passengers on airport tarmacs for hours on end.

"Airline passenger have a right to be treated fairly," LaHood said in a statement. "It's just common sense that if an airline loses your bag or you get bumped from a flight because it was oversold, you should be reimbursed. The additional passenger protections we're announcing today will help make sure air travelers are treated with the respect they deserve."

A government official, who asked not to be identified, acknowledged that airline passengers are increasingly frustrated with new fees imposed by the industry.

"There have been a lot of complaints from consumers complaining by hidden fees," the official told AOL Travel.

Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, an advocacy group that represents corporate travelers, applauded the new rules, but said the DOT still needs to require full disclosure of ancillary fees for online and brick-and-mortar travel agencies.

The airline industry has increased the use on ancillary fees for everything including meals to in-flight entertainment and frequent flier tickets as a way to avoid raising airfares amid sharp increases in the price of jet fuel.

"Today more than 60% of all consumers and over 100% of all corporate travelers don't have access to these fees," Mitchell told AOL Travel. "If you're surprising people halfway through the purchase decision or at the airport its deceptive."

Under the rules announced on Tuesday, the following changes will go into effect:

Airlines that involuntarily bump a passenger on oversold flights will have to refund double the price of a ticket, up to $650 for delays over two hours on domestic flights and four hours on international flights. For delays over two hours, passengers will be allowed to recoup up to four times the ticket price, up to $1,300.

Airlines will be required to disclose all potential fees on their websites, including fees for bags, meals, itinerary changes and cancellations and seat upgrades. Later this year, new rules will be introduced to require that ancillary fees be disclosed up front.

Airlines will have to refund any bag fee if the piece of luggage is lost; this will also apply to code-share and interline partners.

Foreign carriers will be banned from tarmac delays of over four hours, unless there is a safety, security or air-traffic control reason. Carriers must also provide adequate food and water to passengers after two hours, as well as working bathrooms and medical treatment, if needed.

The Air Transport Association was scheduled to come out with a response to the new rules. American, Delta and Jet Blue officials did not immediately return calls.

Filed Under: News, Air Travel

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My wife and I, who are both in mid to late seventies flew from Fort Myers, FL to Atlantic City this past weekend to attend our granddaughter's graduation. Due to our age and medical conditions, we packed three small bags that had to be checked in and we had one small carry on which contained medicaitons and other small necessities. What we were charged for checked baggage and carry on luggage along with seat costs amounted to $268.00 in addition to our airline tickets. This is outrageous and Spirit takes advantage of individuals such as ourselved as there is no other direct carrier between Fort Myers, FL and Atlantic City, NJ. Something needs to be done about these exhorbitant fees. I believe that a competitive carrier on this route would solve the problem and is badly needed. You would think that the least they could do is give us seniors a discount on these additional fees. I would appreciate hearing from you on this matter and what if anything you intend to do to rectify this situation.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Peter J. Comolli

June 07 2011 at 7:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


May 01 2011 at 12:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

heres the problem. the fed needs to be dis-assembled. they are one of many reasons we are in the dumper.. they need to stop farcking around with meaningless dribble and increase the interest rate to 4 or 5 percent. our money has NO value . thats 70% of the reason for high fuel costs. if the money you have is valueless then everything you need to buy is much more expensive....were coming to get you so be ready for the true americans, we will bring fear in you heart

April 26 2011 at 1:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Why doesn't our government do something about the high price's of gas??? Maybe it's because the gas companies give too much to them!!!!!!!!!

Our elected officials really stink

April 21 2011 at 2:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Plashy Fen
What the hell are you talking about?????

L Ruane
TSA are not goons. They are trying to portect us!!!

April 21 2011 at 12:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
L Ruane

When will U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood be announcing a series of new consumer protection measures to protect us from TSA goons?

April 21 2011 at 10:20 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply


April 20 2011 at 9:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


April 20 2011 at 9:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

These penaltys are only going to drive the tickets up and out of sight. Right now tickets for my wife and I that were over priced last year are up over $200.00 more this year so there goes any traveling we were going to do. How much does anyone think they can obsorb? I never lost a piece of luggage and any delays were minor and with a good reason. Oh and I have never been bumped.

April 20 2011 at 7:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Guess what. Now there wil another fee that airlines charge to cover the cost of the new regulations Yo have to love more government regulations On one side it will help, on the other it will become more expensive

April 20 2011 at 7:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply