DOT

Federal government wraps up quiet year for traveler protections

Government fines against airlines for consumer rule violations are on track to hit a six-year low as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s enforcement actions shift from punishment to preventing infractions. With only a few weeks left in 2014, the DOT has issued 23 consent orders that assess $2.6 million in penalties — $4.5 million less than last year. That’s the same number as in 2009.
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Who really benefits when airlines are penalized?

Although the U.S. Department of Transportation fined seven airlines a total of $1.7 million last year for violating its controversial tarmac-delay rule, most of it went straight to the U.S. Treasury. Why isn’t the money awarded to the passengers who sat on planes for hours before taking off?
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Did United offer me compensation for a rough night in the ballroom?

united tailAmanda Ellis says she was “very upset” after her United Airlines flight from Honolulu to the Marshall Islands was canceled because of a sick crewmember.

It wasn’t the one-day delay. Ellis, her husband and seven-year-old son were flying to the islands to adopt their daughter. It wasn’t even the fact that they spent the night under less than desirable circumstances.

It was the way in which the airline tried to compensate the family for the inconvenience, she says.

The Ellises had done everything by the book — or at least, they thought they had.
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3 surprises lurking in your airfare — bet you don’t know what they are

Joseph Hanus/Shutterstock
Joseph Hanus/Shutterstock

Your airline ticket isn’t what it seems to be.

I’m reminded of that whenever I hear from readers like Heidi Fox. Her husband tried to switch his United Airlines ticket from Chicago to Orlando to an earlier flight on the same day, and an airline representative assured him he’d only have to pay a $75 change fee.

But what the rep apparently didn’t say is that Fox’s husband would have to shell out a $744 fare difference, too.

“It was only after he received the emailed receipt that he was made aware of the $744 cost differential,” she says.
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