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USA: new DOT web page on Passenger Cruise Ship Information

To assist cruise ship passengers, the U.S. Department of Transportation has set up a web page sharing information and resources provided by other Federal agencies. The information covers "Consumer Assistance", "Vessel Safety", "Cruise Line Incident Reporting Statistics" and "Criminal Activity Prevention and Response Guide (Security Guide)". The new web page is available at http://www.dot.gov/mission/safety/passenger-cruise-ship-information.

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USA: DOT fines Qantas for not informing passengers of opportunity to leave delayed aircraft

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that Qantas Airways violated federal rules last March by not informing passengers on a delayed aircraft at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport that they had the opportunity to leave the plane as it sat at the gate for an extended period of time with the door open.  DOT fined Qantas USD 90,000 and ordered the airline to cease and desist from further violations.

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German Supreme Court: tour organizer must not reserve alterations of the flying times

Upon law suit filed by a federal consumer association, the German Supreme Court has regarded contractual provisions unfair and illegal which allowed the tour organizer to alter the flying times. The "General Conditions of Contract" of the defendant had contained the following provision:

"Final flying times will be communicated by the organzier in the travel vouchers. Any information on flying times provided by a travel agent is not binding."

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USA: DOT releases guidance for Internet flight-search tools

According to an article published in "Travel Pulse", the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has released a guidance document for travel agencies that operate Internet flight-search tools on how these agencies should disclose the carriers they do not market in their search results. In particular, DOT will consider it an unfair practice to simply report that “no flight exists that matches” the consumer’s criteria, when in reality the flight does exist, but the agency does not offer it. DOT has provided a 90-day window, starting Aug.

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USA: DOT fines ticket agent for violating code-share disclosure rules

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) fined the ticket agent JTB USA, Inc., USD 60,000 for failing to adequately disclose to consumers when flights were being operated by a different airline than the one marketing their flight through a code-sharing agreement. DOT also ordered the company to cease and desist from further violations.

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USA: Cruise industry adopts passenger bill of rights

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is the world's largest cruise industry trade association with representation in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australasia. CLIA represents the interests of cruise lines, travel agents, port authorities and destinations, and various industry business partners before regulatory and legislative policy makers. CLIA is also engaged in travel agent training, research and marketing communications to promote the value and desirability of cruise holiday vacations with thousands of travel agency and travel agent members.

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Austrian Supreme Court decides on air carrier liability for checked baggage and exclusivity of the Montreal liability regime

The plaintiff's father was booked on a flight from Vienna to Istanbul, operated by the defendant. He intended to check two suitcases and keep a smaller bag as cabin luggage. Upon check-in the passenger was told that with regard to its size and weight the bag did not meet the requirements for cabin luggage. He was asked to open the bag and the airline staff at the check-in desk could see that it contained variuos documents, some jewellery, antiques and several spectacles.

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Canada: new Air Price Advertising Rules

In December 2011, the Government of Canada announced that the Canadian Transportation Agency would develop regulations requiring all-inclusive air price advertising. These regulations are now published on Part II of the Canada Gazette.

The regulations support two key objectives:

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USA: DOT collected USD 3.6 M in fines for air passenger rule violations in 2012

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) said it levied USD 3.6 million in penalties for 2012 violations of the department’s consumer-protection rules for air passengers. The total is up from USD 3.3 million in 2011. During 2012, the Department issued 49 consent orders for consumer rule violations, the most recent two against Copa Airlines and Virgin America for not strictly adhering to the DOT’s rules for lengthy tarmac delays.

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USA: Federal Trade Commission requires hotels to disclose all mandatory surcharges

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned 22 hotel operators that their online reservation sites may violate the law by providing a deceptively low estimate of what consumers can expect to pay for their hotel rooms. According to the FTC letters, one common complaint consumers raised involved mandatory fees hotels charge for amenities such as newspapers, use of onsite exercise or pool facilities, or internet access, sometimes referred to as ‘resort fees'.

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