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When it comes to travel, few things are more annoying than having the start of your trip delayed by a long wait for your flight to even takeoff. Many fliers – nails buried in their armrests, eyes fixed on the adjacent terminal – are familiar with the frustration of long tarmac delays. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) feels your pain, and has a number of rules and regulations to put the kibosh on delays. Unfortunately, two airlines skirted the rules, and will have to pay a hefty price.
The DOT fined both Virgin America and Copa Airlines of Panama for violating federal rules prohibiting long tarmac delays. Virgin America was hit with a $55,000 fine, while Copa received a whopping $150,000. Federal regulation dictates that airlines must allow passengers to disembark an aircraft if they have been waiting on a tarmac for more than three hours on domestic flights, or four hours on international flights. Should a flight be delayed at the gate, the airline must announce passengers are permitted to deplane 30 minutes after the scheduled departure time, and every 30 minutes after. Exceptions are made if the delay is due to safety, security, or air traffic control reasons. Depending on the length of the delay, carriers can be fined up to $27,500 per person.
Have you ever gone gaga for those $9 advertised airfares, only to discover that after taking into account applicable taxes and fees, they worked out to as much as 10 times as much? New U.S. Department of Transportation rules, set to take effect on January 26, will soon require airlines and travel sites to disclose the full price of a ticket upfront, inclusive of all fees and taxes. While consumers might rejoice at the promise of transparency in advertised rates (particularly on international fares, where some of the most drastic discrepancies between base rates and post-tax and fee-inclusive fares apply), some airlines aren’t quite so happy. In fact, a handful, including Southwest, Spirit, and Allegiant, are going to court to try and defend their right to free speech and to utilize that long-used little asterisk, leading to that dreaded tiny paragraph of fee- and tax-disclosure print. Read more
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s revised regulations aimed at boosting airline passenger protection, announced in April, finally take effect today. Among the new rules, passengers are entitled to a refund of baggage fees if their bags are lost, increased compensation if bumped from oversold flights, and more effective notifications and handling of lengthy tarmac delays.
While airlines are already obligated to reimburse passengers for loss, damaged, or delayed baggage, they must now also prominently disclose all optional fees on their websites. These include fees for baggage, meals, canceling or changing reservations, and upgraded seating.
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