On Tuesday, August 23, 2011, the Department of Transportation implemented new airline passenger protections. Effective that date, international flights will fall under the same requirements as domestic flights as they will no longer be able keep passengers on the tarmac indefinitely. The new protections also increase compensation from $650.00 and $1,300.00 depending on the length of the delay. Additionally, the new rules provide that carriers must publish all fees for their optional services, and provide for a refund of your baggage fees if your baggage is lost.
Today represents another major victory for airline passengers as all commercial airlines operating in the U.S. will now fall under the Tarmac Delay Rule while consumers will now enjoy a number of new common sense protections. These improvements to the existing passenger rights regulations will help create accountability and greater efficiency in commercial air travel.
Perhaps best of all, these new rules that we have fought so hard for, will make sure that passengers will no longer be forced to pay for the privilege of having their luggage lost by an airline.
For decades, the commercial airlines have successfully managed to convince the DOT that they should police themselves when it comes to how they treat passengers--essentially preventing any meaningful reforms from taking place. DOT data has proven beyond any doubt that the DOT Passengers Rights rules, including the 3 Hour Rule, are in fact market-based and have actually made the airlines more efficient. These new rules enacted today, just like those that came before, will also prove to be a major benefit to consumers, while serving to enhance the long term health of the industry.
While celebrating the implementation of the new rules, we at FlyersRights.org also expressed disappointment that the DOT's plans to delay until January other key provisions of their rulemaking, including requirements to publish all fees and taxes as part of the fare, rapid passenger notification of flight status changes, and requiring airlines and ticket sellers hold reservations for 24 hours before requiring purchase.
We look forward to new rules which will afford consumers much greater transparency and better information when they travel-- allowing the marketplace to operate more cleanly and efficiently. We are hopeful the DOT will consider putting them into effect before the holiday travel season this year, rather than delaying them until January.
INTERESTED READERS CAN FIND HUFFPOST TRAVEL'S NEWS ARTICLE ON THE REGULATIONS HERE.