9 MAY 2011

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Article from BTNews 9 MAY 2011

US passenger protection

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has finalised new regulations aimed at further strengthening "passenger protections," including extending the tarmac delay rule in place for US domestic airlines to foreign carriers' Stateside operations and increasing required compensation for involuntarily bumped passengers.

The wide-ranging statute boosts the minimum compensation offered to passengers involuntarily bumped from flights from US$400/US$800 to US$650/US$1,300 and establishes a formula that will see payments rise automatically with inflation.  It requires airlines to refund checked baggage fees if bags are lost or delayed, prohibits price increases after a ticket is purchased and sets new requirements for advertising fares online.  Will this rule cross the Atlantic where controversy is formulating regarding some airlines disguising the bottom line fare?

Perhaps the most controversial directive is one that permits customers to hold reservations at the quoted fare without payment, or cancel without penalty, for at least 24 hours after the reservation is made. 

In a slight concession to international carriers, international flights cannot sit on the apron for more than four hours waiting departure, one more hour than is allowed for domestic flights under the DOT's tarmac delay requirements.  After two hours refreshments must be provided as is restroom access. www.dot.gov/affairs/2009/dot19909.htm

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