Gov't announces new steps to protect airline consumers

Gov't announces new steps to protect airline consumers

In response to consumer complaints about the practice, Congress in July passed a measure requiring the government to examine whether to require carriers to refund bag charges if luggage arrives late. Those changes will likely go into effect in January 2018.

"It would be hard to find an industry that is more transparent than the airline industry; customers always know exactly what they are paying for before they buy", said Nicholas Calio, the association's president.

The new rules would also require some airlines to report the frequency that they lose or damage wheelchairs, as well as requiring airlines to report all flight delays.

The will also be required to provide more complete operational data, including on-time numbers from regional partners like American Eagle, United Express, and Delta Connection.

The new rules, to go into effect in January of 2018, require airlines to refund baggage fees if luggage is "substantially" delayed; prohibits online travel agents from "undisclosed biasing of flight offerings on behalf of certain airlines", meaning agents can not offer flights based on relationships, financial or otherwise, with certain carriers; and requiring carriers to report how often they lose or damage wheelchairs.

Airlines for America (A4A), an industry trade organization, warned that efforts to re-regulate the industry could drive up the cost of air travel.

I'm not sure which part of disclosing delays and fees would cause the prices to hike, but I'm sure they'll be lots more debate between A4A and the DOT about every aspect of the regulations before they first come to fruition in a couple of months.

More than 700 million passengers are expected to board 9 million domestic airline flights this year, according to the Department of Transportation. Major carriers haven't been including flights operated by regional carriers for the larger airline in their performance reports to the government. Foxx said that consumers may not be aware that some listings may be "biased" in favor of certain airlines. Consumer advocates say that makes major carriers' records look better than they really are. He said the administration's actions will "spur" competition. "We need to continue working to make flying easier and more transparent for the public".

Leocha also criticized the department's plans to start a separate rulemaking process to explore whether airlines should be required to share information with ticket agents on fees for services like checked bags, advance seat assignments and priority boarding.

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