USA: DOT issues new passenger rights regulation
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued a final rule to improve the air travel environment for consumers by:
- increasing the number of carriers that are required to adopt tarmac delay contingency plans and the airports at which they must adhere to the plan’s terms;
- increasing the number of carriers that are required to report tarmac delay information to the Department;
- expanding the group of carriers that are required to adopt, follow, and audit customer service plans and establishing minimum standards for the subjects all carriers must cover in such plans;
- adding carriers to those required to include their contingency plans and customer service plans on their websites;
- increasing the number of carriers that must respond to consumer complaints;
- enhancing protections afforded passengers in oversales situations, including increasing the maximum denied boarding compensation airlines must pay to passengers bumped from flights;
- strengthening, codifying and clarifying the Department’s enforcement policies concerning air transportation price advertising practices;
- requiring carriers to notify consumers of optional fees related to air transportation and of increases in baggage fees;
- prohibiting post-purchase price increases;
- requiring carriers to provide passengers timely notice of flight status changes such as delays and cancellations; and
- prohibiting carriers from imposing unfair contract of carriage choice-of-forum provisions.
The DOT has taken this action to strengthen the rights of air travelers in the event of oversales, flight cancellations and delays, ensure that passengers have accurate and adequate information to make informed decisions when selecting flights, prohibit unfair and deceptive practices such as post-purchase price increases and contract of carriage choice-of-forum provisions, and to ensure responsiveness to consumer complaints.
Final Rule Dkt. No. OST-2010-0140 (Dep't of Transp. Apr. 20, 2011) available in pdf here>>