DOT prepares new protections for airline consumers
The first proposal, which is expected to be released in a few days, would force airlines to reimburse additional charges under more circumstances than current requirements, according to a source close to the plans.
This would force airlines to reimburse fees for checked baggage that arrives late, the source said – more than 12 hours late for a domestic flight and 25 hours late for an international flight. If the bag is not delivered in this window, the rule would require reimbursement of all checked baggage charges. The official said the current refund rules apply to baggage that is lost, but not delayed.
The proposal would also require prompt reimbursement of optional fees if the service – such as choosing a seat and using Wi-Fi internet – does not work or is not used, the source said. The current federal rule requiring this type of refund is limited to cases where the airline does not allow the passenger to board.
Another proposal, expected later this year, would require airlines to notify customers before selling tickets about baggage fees and to change or cancel tickets.
“This disclosure would prevent families from being hit by hidden airfare costs and make it easier for families to compare flight options to get the best tickets available,” the official said.
Baggage, change and cancellation fees were $ 8.6 billion in 2019, according to Department of Transportation reports.
More than 87% of complaints were about airline refunds, prompting officials to issue official notices reminding airlines of the rules. Twice last year – in April and May – the Transportation Department received more complaints about refunds alone than it received on all topics combined for all of 2019.