The New Rights for Air Travelers
In 2011, the United States Department of Transportation published a set of regulations for air travel, known as Airline Passenger's Bill of Rights. Here are some of the highlights of those regulations:
- If the airline charges a fee for checked baggage, passengers are entitled to a reimbursement of that fee, in addition to the value of the property itself, if the baggage is lost.
- All fees, in addition to the base price of a ticket, must be revealed at time of purchase. These include charges for meals, checked baggage, seat upgrades, cancellations, and taxes.
- Passengers are allowed a 24-hour grace period, after reserving a ticket, to change their itinerary without being charged a cancellation fee.
- Passengers who are bumped from a domestic flight are entitled to compensation in the amount of double the price of the ticket--up to $650--if the airline gets them to their destination less than two hours from their original time of arrival. For longer delays, passengers are entitled to four times the price of their ticket, up to $1,300. Airlines will sometimes offer vouchers for future flights, but they are legally required to offer money.
- Airlines are required to inform passengers of delays and bumps either at the gate or via cell phone. Passengers shall be notified online, also, in the case of domestic flights.
- If a flight is delayed, airlines are required to update passengers on the situation at least every 30 minutes, including the reason for the delay. On an international flight, passengers may not be kept on the plane for more than four hours without an opportunity to de-plane, unless doing so would create a hazard. After two hours on the ground, the airline must provide food, water, medical treatment, and toilet accommodations.