Latest Round Of Pro-Consumer Airline Regulations To Start This Week

The Department of Transportation’s newest airline regulations — aiming to cut down even more on tarmac delays, curb passenger-bumping and make ticket fees more transparent — will kick in for air travelers tomorrow.

We’ve covered some of the early discussions on these matters, but here are the final rules that the DOT will begin enforcing this week:
• International flights — whether operated by U.S. or foreign airlines — that stay on the tarmac for more than four hours without taking off will be subject to fines of up to $27,500 per passenger. This is an extension of the DOT’s existing rule that allows the agency to penalize domestic flights for sitting on a tarmac for more than three hours.

• For passengers bumped from an overbooked flight, the compensation received from the airline is increased. If the bump results in only a short delay before the traveler ultimately arrives at their destination, they will receive double the price of their ticket (up to $650). Travelers currently only receive the price of their ticket (up to $400). If the bump results in a significant delay, that compensation could go as high as four times the airfare (up to $1,300), an increase from the current maximum of $800.

• Airlines will be required to prominently disclose all ancillary fees — checked bags, meals, cancellation charges, among others — on their websites.

The next slate of runway regulations will kick in starting in January 2012. Those will cover things like notifying passengers of delays and cancellations, giving customers a 24-hour cancellation window for reservations made at least a week before departure, more fee transparency, and locking in airfares after purchase.

New rules for airlines kick in this week to protect fliers [USA Today]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.