The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced four major changes to airline regulations that will affect frequent fliers. Under the new regulations, airlines will be required to refund bag fees if they lose luggage.
Currently, airlines are required to compensate passengers for the value of lost bags, regardless of whether a fee was paid to check them. According to Associated Press, airlines mishandled 2 million bags last year, although that number also includes damaged and delayed ones. The new regulation would not force airlines to pay travelers for delayed luggage.
New airline guidelines will also affect the amount of time passengers spend on an airport tarmac. U.S. regulators have put a 4-hour limit on the tarmac for international flights after last December when passengers were stranded on the tarmac for more than 10 hours at New York’s JFK airport. Some airline trade groups say the new tarmac regulation will force airlines to cancel more international flights to avoid the $27,000 per passenger fine that comes with breaking the rule.
There’s also good news for passengers who get bumped off oversold flights. Passengers are compensated up to $630 or $1,330 depending on how long a passenger is delayed before catching another flight. Before the new provision, passengers were compensated up to $400 and $800.
In addition to passenger compensation, the new regulations require that airline websites disclose all potential fees, including costs for checking bags, changing reservations and upgrading seats. Airlines will also have to include taxes and government-imposed fees in the fares that they advertise.
Brandon M. Macsata, executive director of the Association for Airline Passenger Rights, told Associated Press that “airline passengers deserve to know the total fares they’re paying, including ancillary fees. They deserve fair compensation for lost bags, as well as when oversold flights force them off a flight for which they purchase a ticket; and they deserve minimum protections when stuck on the tarmac, regardless whether the flight is operated by a domestic or foreign carrier.”