|by Sean O'Neill||Airfares & Flying, Airport Check-in, Questions and Opinions||3|
Last week, the Department of Transportation announced new rules designed to protect air travelers.
Starting in mid-August, airlines will be required to refund checked-bag fees if they lose luggage and never find it. They'll also be required to pay travelers more compensation for involuntarily bumping them from a flight. Airlines will also have to include fees and taxes in advertised prices. A four-hour cap on tarmac delays will be applied to international flights, unless those airlines contest the DOT ruling in court.
We recently asked readers what else, if anything, the federal government should do to improve air travel.
Here were some reader responses:
I'm a bit concerned about over-regulation.... Anything involving safety is a legitimate concern for government, but sometimes merely calling attention to the problem is sufficient to cause a change. Regulations can be like using a cannon to kill a mosquito.
Normally, I do not like "overactive" government, but these problems are of the airlines' making. Rather than working to eliminate them, the airlines appear to be working to make them worse and push their customers to the breaking limit before easing up. Government regulation here is our last resort.—NJ Traveler
Choice is what we need, not a government responding to every complaint with rules that make it more expensive to fly for all.—David S.
FAA has not gone nearly far enough to support passenger rights!—Tony Mendo
One of the interesting parts of the DOT announcement was its decision on bag fees. It is essentially saying that checked bag fees cover the cost of shipping your bag—not a promise of delivering them on time. If your bag doesn't arrive, airlines will now owe you your fee back (plus compensation, as is already required). But if your bag is delayed by, say, two days, the airline is off the hook.
It's worth giving a shout out to three airlines that are doing the "right thing" about checked baggage fees:
Delta refunds your checked bag fee if your bag arrives at least 12 hours late
Alaska Air promises you'll get your bag delivered within 20 minutes or you get a $20 voucher good toward a future flight
Frontier Airlines has a new pledge, since mid-April, that if your bags do not arrive on your flight, you can for a reimbursement of your checked baggage fees in the form of an electronic travel certificate good for future travel on Frontier. (The airline also lowered its first-checked-bag fee on coach-class fares from $20 to $15, when a customer pays for it online.)
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