02 June 2010

US DoT Launches Wide Ranging Consumer Facing Rules

In a series of announcements today the U.S. Department of Transportation’s passenger-rights rule-making announced today has a very broad impact and plugs a lot of holes in the current information process. Some might say that this has been a long time coming both in the need for consumer protection and also to recognize that the web really exists. Some might even say this is the other show falling after the de-regulation of the GDS market

The DOT is proposing a wide range of consumer protections ranging from increasing compensation (finally) for passengers involuntarily bumped from flights.

Just as Alaska airlines cancelled theirs - the DoT wants to allow passengers to make and cancel reservations within 24 hours without penalty. this will upset a few. One regulation I applaud (actually I am happy with all of them) requires full and prominently displayed disclosure of baggage fees as well as refunds and expense reimbursement when bags are not delivered on time. it is not clear if those arcane rules will be fixed - er like you wont get anything if we slash, damage or drop your bag - willfully or not. The fair weight of fairness in advertising will require fair price advertising, prohibiting price increases after a ticket is purchased and mandating timely notice of flight status changes.

The rules also require notification of the non-airline ticket charges.

While not as specific nor as strict as the European rules which the US could have copied - this is a step in the right direction.

Let's hope when Congress get their hands on it they don't screw it up too badly.


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