On Standby: New Airline Passenger Rules

These proposed changes might take the frustration out of your next flight

Tell the Department of Transportation just what you think of "flying the friendly skies."

If you’ve ever been bumped from a flight, you know the frustration that comes with having your plans thrown off course. But new policies are in the works that might leave you less fumed. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed new rules that would protect consumers. These rules are an extension of the airline passenger protections already in place that took effect in April. Among the protections was the end of unfair practices by airlines, such as making passengers wait more than three hours on a tarmac. Here’s a breakdown of more changes that could be coming your way.

Increased compensation. Currently, you’re eligible for up to $400 if you get bumped from a flight and the carrier arranges transportation that will arrive at your destination one to two hours after the original scheduled arrival time for a domestic flight (one to four hours for international flights). If you have to wait more than two hours after the original scheduled arrival time for alternate transportation, the amount is $800. Thankfully, there are new regulations proposed that would allow you to get a larger amount of money. The new limits would be increased to $650 and $1,300 respectively. Every two years, these amounts would be adjusted for inflation.

Adjustments to penalties. Passengers will no longer face penalties for making or canceling reservations within 24 hours.

Changes to the way prices are handled. Airlines  must advertise the fair price. In addition, they’ll be banned from increasing prices after a ticket is purchased.

Full disclosure. Under the proposed rules, airlines would be required to fully and prominently display a disclosure of baggage fees. Special notices would have to be given any time baggage fees are increased. In addition, carriers would have to notify customers if they’re required to pay to check up to two bags. They would also be required to fully and prominently display refunds and expense reimbursement when bags are delivered late.

Timely notices. It would be a requirement for airlines to alert customers of flight status changes in a timely manner.

Additional accommodations. Finally, and probably most importantly for peanut allergy sufferers, the DOT is thinking about providing additional access to air travel for those with peanut allergies.

Before the changes take place, the DOT is seeking feedback from the public. You can voice your opinions through Regulations.gov, which is the official Web portal for submitting comments on all proposed Federal rules. For more information about the proposed changes, visit  Regulation Room, a Website developed by Cornell University in partnership with the DOT.

Sheiresa Ngo is the consumer affairs editor at Black Enterprise.

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