In 2011, the US Department of Transport introduced a series of new regulations to offer greater protection to airline passengers. The intention is to improve the level of service actually delivered at airports and to achieve a better level of transparency on fares before you book. This is a brief summary of the new protections:
- Baggage loss. If a bag is lost, the airline is required to refund the fee charged for carriage, and to hold that reduced fee on any continuing or return flights. Compensation is also to be paid. Although this is not intended as a substitute for you carrying travel insurance, basic losses should be covered immediately when loss or damage is obvious. Compensation remains payable even if the bag is not lost but merely delayed.
- Looking at bumping. Despite the best efforts of regulators around the world, airlines continue to overbook, particularly when cheap air tickets are held. The new rules double the amount of compensation payable if you are denied a flight. If you cannot be delivered to your intended destination within two hours of the scheduled time, you're entitled to compensation of double the face value of the ticket up to a maximum $650 per ticket. But if the delay is longer, you're entitled to four times the face value of the ticket up to a maximum of $1,300 per ticket. These compensation amounts will be adjusted to stay in line with inflation every two years.
- Airline transparency. All airlines must list all the applicable charges on their websites for handling bags, providing meals, and so on. All government fees and taxes must be included in the ticket prices collected. Unless the government fees and taxes rise, the prices cannot be increased after you pay.
- Making ticket reservations. If you make a reservation for full-price or cheap air tickets, the quoted prices must be held for at least 24 hours. If you decide to cancel, the airline is not allowed to impose a penalty.