Believe it or not, America's most intense travel weeks--Thanksgiving and Christmas--are nearly upon us, and many people have already made their holiday airline reservations. As those of you who are planning holiday trips begin navigating airline and other travel websites, I want to remind you that DOT has been working hard to make sure this year is different.
As I’ve mentioned many times before on this blog, DOT strongly believes that passengers are entitled to strong and effective protections when they fly, and that they should be able to expect fair treatment from airlines.
And that applies no matter how busy the travel period is.
You'll be happy to know, for example, that our April 2010 ban on extended tarmac delays has been very effective. That's right; the delays that sometimes left travelers stranded aboard aircraft without access to food, water, or working lavatories for hours on end have virtually disappeared.
This is great news for anyone who has ever been stranded on the tarmac for a long period of time, or who has heard horror stories from a loved one who has been stranded. Our analysis shows that our new protections have not directly affected cancellation rates, though we continue to monitor and study these.
Just last month, additional protections went into effect to make flying even more convenient and hassle-free for air travelers nationwide. The new consumer protections, finalized earlier this year require:
- Refunded baggage fees if bags are lost,
- Increased compensation for passengers involuntarily bumped from oversold flights,
- Extending the ban on lengthy tarmac delays for international flights on foreign carriers and domestic flights from small-hub and non-hub airports.
And early next year--January 24--further protections that go into effect, including:
- Requiring all taxes and fees to be included in advertised fares.
- Banning post-purchase price increases.
- Allowing passengers to hold a reservation without payment, or to cancel it without penalty, for 24 hours after the reservation is made, if the reservation is made one week or more prior to a flight’s departure date.
- Requiring disclosure of baggage fees when passengers book a flight.
If you travel by air this holiday season, recent DOT passenger protections will help ensure that you receive the respect you deserve before, during and after your flights.
For more information about your rights as an air traveler and how to prepare for your trip, please visit our Air Consumer website.