As I’ve mentioned recently, DOT's Office of Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement was hard at work in 2011 protecting the interests of the flying public. And I'm happy to see that 2012 is off to a strong start.
In addition to the passenger protections we put into place last year --including baggage fee refunds if an airline loses your luggage and increased compensation if you're involuntarily bumped from an oversold flight-- new regulations are going into effect this week to further ensure that America's consumers are treated fairly when they travel by air.
DOT wants to make sure that consumers can easily determine the full price for air transportation before you travel. Arriving at the airport only to be hit with surprise fees is no way to start a trip. So the new protections require that airlines and ticket agents include all mandatory taxes and fees in their published airfares and that they disclose baggage fees when you buy your tickets.
Also, beginning this week, if you make your reservation one week or more prior to a flight’s departure date, customers will be able to hold a reservation without payment, or cancel a booking without penalty, for 24 hours after you make your reservation.
Finally, airlines and ticket agents will generally be prohibited from increasing the price of your ticket after it is bought.
The advertising provision takes effect on January 26, while all of the other consumer protections go into effect tomorrow.
I’ve said many times that airline passengers have rights, and they should be able to expect fair and reasonable treatment when booking a trip and when they fly. The protections taking effect this week are another step forward in our ongoing effort to help air travelers receive the respect they deserve.
But we are far from done. We're also looking at other possible measures, including requiring that all optional fees be disclosed wherever consumers can book a flight.
It’s simple: we think that treating passengers fairly is the right thing to do. I’m proud of the work DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement team has done, and I know they will continue working to make flying more convenient and agreeable for our nation's air travelers.