The new protections, put in place by the Department of Transportation (DOT), require that airlines and ticket agents include all mandatory taxes and fees in published airfares and that they disclose baggage fees to consumers buying tickets.
“Starting this week, there will be more transparency when it comes to the cost of flying,” said Thompson. “Passengers have rights, and now because of the new DOT regulations airlines will no longer be able to hide costs and fees from consumers.”
Specifically, the new rules will make it easier for passengers to determine the full price they will have to pay for air transportation prior to travel.
Currently, airlines and ticket agents are allowed to publish ads that list government-imposed taxes and fees separately from the advertised fare, as long as these taxes and fees are assessed on a per-passenger basis.
However, sometimes the notice of these taxes and fees is not obvious to consumers. Under the new requirements, all mandatory taxes and fees must be included together in the advertised fare.
In addition, airlines and ticket agents will be required to disclose baggage fees to consumers when they book a flight online.
The first screen containing a fare quotation for a specific itinerary must show if there will be additional baggage fees, and inform consumers where they can go to see these fees.
Information on baggage fees also must be included on all e-ticket confirmations, and for most trips the same baggage allowances and fees must apply throughout a passenger’s journey.
These consumer protections build on rules announced in August that expanded the existing ban on lengthy tarmac delays to cover foreign airlines’ operation at U.S. airports and established a four hour time limit on tarmac delays for international flights. Under the regulations, carriers must ensure that passengers stuck on the tarmac are provided adequate food and water after two hours, as well as working restrooms.
Exceptions to the four hour rule will only be allowed for safety, security, or air traffic control reasons. These same protections are included in the Air Passenger Bill of Rights Act (H.R. 729), a bill Thompson introduced in February.
Also beginning this week, passengers will be able to hold a reservation without payment, or cancel a booking without penalty, for 24 hours after the reservation is made, if they make the reservation one week or more prior to a flight’s departure date.
In addition, airlines will be required to promptly notify passengers of flight delays of over 30 minutes, as well as flight cancellations and diversions, and they will generally be prohibited from increasing the price of passengers’ ticket after it is bought.