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Airline passengers get new rights Tuesday

Posted by Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor  August 22, 2011 11:19 AM

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In response to some high profile cases of passenger neglect by airlines, federal regulators announced new rules in April to expand the rights of airline passengers, and those regulations take effect tomorrow. Forewarned is forearmed. The new regulations include provisions to:


  • Force airlines to display all potential fees for services and amenities such as baggage check, meals, and canceling reservations on their websites;

  • Refund any baggage fees for lost luggage in addition to current rules which say they must compensate travelers for lost or damaged belongings;

  • Increase compensation for passengers bumped from flights and delayed for up to two hours to twice the ticket price, up to $650, and for those delayed longer than two hours to as much as four times ticket value, up to $1,300. Formerly shorter delays brought compensation equal to ticket value up to $400 and longer delays were capped at $800;

  • Allow US regulators to fine carriers as much as $27,500 per customer for leaving passengers on foreign flights stranded on a tarmac for more than four hours. (This expands a 2009 rule prohibiting delays of more than three hours for domestic flights by US carriers.)

And this is just the beginning. There are some other rules that the Department of Transportation proposed that won't take effect until Jan. 24, and they include:


  • Allowing customers to change or cancel reservations within 24 hours of booking without a penalty fee as long as the reservation was made at least a week before departure;

  • Forcing airlines to immediately notify passengers of cancellations, diversions, and delays of more than 30 minutes;

  • And requiring carriers to display all government taxes and fees in their advertised prices.


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