Is the government letting airlines off easy? Let’s do the math

The Transportation Department’s latest high-profile fine goes against Comair for violating denied-boarding rules. It’s a big ticket: $275,000, which, while significantly less than the record fine against Spirit Airlines late last year, could be the largest enforcement action for bad bumping practices.

According to the government, an investigation of Comair revealed numerous cases in which the airline failed to solicit volunteers to leave overbooked flights and provide passengers with the appropriate denied boarding compensation.

The DOT’s Aviation Enforcement Office also found that Comair had filed inaccurate reports with DOT on the number of passengers involuntarily denied boarding.

Bad Comair!

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Airline passengers get a chance to be heard on proposed regulations

If you’ve ever complained about air travel — and who hasn’t? — then here’s your best chance in a generation to do something about it.

Tell the government what you think of its proposed new passenger rights rules. You can do it right now, thanks to a new project called Regulation Room.

There’s a lot to comment about. The rules cover everything from tarmac delays to peanuts. If adopted, they could change the way Americans fly more than any single regulation since the airline industry was deregulated in 1978.
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The hard facts about the peanuts-on-a-plane rule everyone’s talking about

Editor’s note: This is part twelve in a series about the Transportation Department’s sweeping new airline passenger protection rules. You can read the entire document here (.DOC). Please take a moment to comment on these proposed rules at Regulationroom.org. The future of air travel depends on it.

Ban peanuts? Really?

That’s the first reaction I get when I mention the final, and perhaps the most ridiculed, of the Transportation Department’s proposed new rules. Seriously — why would the government do away with peanuts on a plane?

The regulatory analysis (PDF) I’ve referred to throughout this series of posts doesn’t even address this contentious issue.
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New rule: No more price increases after you buy a ticket

Editor’s note: This is part nine in a series about the Transportation Department’s sweeping new airline passenger protection rules. You can read the entire document here (.DOC). Please take a moment to comment on these proposed rules at Regulationroom.org. The future of air travel depends on it.

Here’s a new government rule that might surprise you: It would prohibit post-purchase price increases in air transportation or air tours by carriers and ticket agents.

If you said, “They can do that”? then you’re not alone. That was my initial reaction.

But yes, they can.
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Transportation Department wants airlines to reveal all fees and an airfare — or two

Editor’s note: This is part eight in a series about the Transportation Department’s sweeping new airline passenger protection rules. You can read the entire document here (.DOC). Please take a moment to comment on these proposed rules at Regulationroom.org. The future of air travel depends on it.

Last week, we started dissecting the government’s plans to tighten the way in which airlines advertise their fares. But if you continue reading the proposed rulemaking, you’ll discover the Transportation Department wants to go further.

How much further? Well, not only does the government want to require online agencies to display complete prices, but it also has a series of ideas about how a more complete fare might be displayed.

The reason for the rule is simple: People are confused. And they’re paying more than they thought. According to the regulatory analysis (PDF),

In many cases, these passengers would not be aware of the amounts of baggage fees and optional fees charged in the absence of notices on these sites, resulting in them incurring more charges for checked baggage and other optional services than if they had known about the additional costs for these items.

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The truth about the government’s new “full fare” disclosure rule

Editor’s note: This is part seven in a series about the Transportation Department’s sweeping new airline passenger protection rules. You can read the entire document here (.DOC). Please take a moment to comment on these proposed rules at Regulationroom.org. The future of air travel depends on it.

When you get a fare quote from an airline or online agency, you should expect to pay that price. Right?

Wrong.

It’s not that the travel industry lies — although it often does — but that quoting a less-than-inclusive ticket price has so many advantages.

For starters, the government doesn’t make you do it. It’s also easier to quote an “unbundled” fare. Plus, it makes you more money ($7.8 billion in airline fees last year, most of it tax-free).

All that could change if the Transportation Department has its way.
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New requirements would force international airlines to monitor and respond to passenger complaints

Editor’s note: This is part five in a series about the Transportation Department’s sweeping new airline passenger protection rules. You can read the entire document here (.DOC). Please take a moment to comment on these proposed rules at Regulationroom.org. The future of air travel depends on it.

The deeper I wade into the new airline passenger rules, the more I find myself wondering: Why do airlines have to be told to do this?

Take its proposals about responses to consumer problems. In a previous rulemaking, the DOT had to tell U.S. carriers to designate an employee to monitor the effects on passengers of flight delays, flight cancellations, and lengthy tarmac delays and to have input into decisions such as which flights are canceled and which are subject to the longest delays.
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