ASTA Praises New Airline Passenger Rules

The DOT looks to help simplify air travel and stimulate demand By: Sara Omidvar
Travelers might find air travel easier thanks to the DOT. // © 2011 istockphotos.com
Travelers might find air travel easier thanks to the DOT. // © 2011 istockphotos.com

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced its final rules for Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections. Among the amendments are a four-hour tarmac delay limit to foreign air transportation by all carriers, mandatory refund of optional fees paid when baggage is lost and when the optional services are not used due to overselling or cancellations, enhancements to denied boarding compensation, expansion of the ìfull priceî rule to include government charges and enhanced notice of flight delays.

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) praised the DOT's rulemaking saying that, with some exceptions, it was "a triumph for air travelers and those who sell to them."

"We are hopeful that these changes will reduce the degree of confusion and conflict that is often associated with air travel and will stimulate demand," said ASTA president and chairman of the board Chris Russo. "All elements of the travel and tourism sector should benefit from these advances. ASTA is gratified that so many of [our] pro-consumer positions were adopted by the department in the final rule."

However, the DOT did not adopt rules that require airlines to share optional fee information in a transactable form with agents. Instead it announced another rulemaking to address that issue. ASTA said it will continue to work with the DOT to ensure that prompt action follows to bring this issue to closure.
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