Consumer Protection

Air Travel


Recent updates from the U.S. Department of Transportation established new consumer protections for air travel passengers.

Fees:

  • Airlines must prominently disclose all optional fees on their websites, including but not limited to fees for baggage, meals, canceling or changing reservations or advanced or upgraded seating.
  • Airlines must disclose baggage fees on e-ticket confirmations.
  • Airlines must apply the same baggage allowances and fees throughout a passenger’s journey, including segments with interline and code share partners.

Prices and Reservations:

  • Airlines are banned from raising prices after the initial purchase, unless such increases are due to government-imposed taxes or fees, and then only if the passenger is notified and has agreed to the potential increase at the time of sale.
  • Airlines must allow reservations to be held at the quoted fare without payment, or canceled without penalty, for at least 24 hours after the reservation is made if the reservation is made one week or more before a flight’s departure date.

Oversold Flights:

  • If you are involuntarily bumped from an oversold flight, the new rules double the amount of money you are eligible to receive as compensation.
  • If you find a flight on an alternate airline, you may ask your original carrier to “endorse” your ticket to the new carrier, because this could save you a fare increase and get you to your destination with the shortest delay. Airlines, however, are not required to provide endorsements.
  • You always have the right to retain your original ticket and use it for another flight. You can request an “involuntary refund” for your bumped fare if you choose to make your own alternate travel arrangements.

Delays:

  • Airlines are required to provide passengers timely notice of flight delays and cancellations.
  • The Department of Transportation’s ban on lengthy tarmac delays will now cover the international flights of foreign airlines at U.S. airports and domestic flights at small-hub and non-hub airports.

Lost Baggage:

  • If your bag is lost, you are entitled to a refund of any fee for carrying that bag. Airlines are already required to compensate passengers for reasonable expenses for loss, damage or delay in the carriage of passenger baggage.

Tips for Hassle-Free Flying:

  • Be as flexible as possible in travel plans – fares may be lower if you can travel on Saturdays or midweek and during off-peak hours.
  • Plan as far ahead as you can. Because airlines usually set aside only a few seats on each flight at the lower rates, the real bargains sell out quickly. Remember, though, air carriers sometimes make more discount seats available later. If you initially had decided against a trip because of the price, check rates again closer to your travel date.
  • Some airlines may have discounts that others do not offer. For instance, the fare could depend on which airport you use. Also, a connection (change of planes) or a one-stop flight is sometimes cheaper than a nonstop.
  • Make note if you will be charged for baggage and how much. Some airlines allow one checked bag for free while others tack on a charge for each suitcase that is checked.
  • Plan ahead when packing your suitcases. Many items such as scissors, razors and large bottles of liquids such as shampoo and conditioner, are prohibited from carry-on bags yet can be included in your checked suitcase. Other items, such as flares and gunpowder are restricted from air travel altogether. Be sure to visit the Transportation Security Administration website to find a full list of prohibited items.
  • You may carry liquids onto an airplane if they are in bottles of three ounces and smaller. They must be consolidated into a quart-sized plastic bag for inspection.
  • Adult passengers are required to show a federal or State-issued photo ID to go through the checkpoint and onto their flight.
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