DOT Moves to Improve Air Services; Agents Must Inform Clients of Baggage Fees

Under new rules issued by Department of Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters, airlines and travel agents will be required to disclose fees for checking a second bag in their Internet and print ads and before anyone purchases a ticket. The requirement is part of the DOT’s new recommendations to improve air travel.

In addition to warnings about baggage fees, the DOT wants airlines to give travelers better data on delays, and moved to lower air fares and reduce congestion at New York’s JFK and Newark Airports. The DOT also wants to avoid future abrupt flight cancellations due to maintenance.

A new rule will require airlines to report new and more complete data on the time passengers spend on the tarmac. Airlines must provide complete on-time and tarmac delay data about flights that may depart from a gate more than once, flights that are canceled after having left the gate and flights that are diverted to another airport.

Peters also announced three new measures designed to address severe delays at the three major New York area airports. This includes a temporary cap on flights at Newark Liberty Airport at an average of 83 scheduled flights per hour at the airport from June 1 until October 2009.

She noted that while the measure will spread flight schedules more evenly throughout the day, it still will allow for an additional 30 operations per day than what was offered at the airport last summer.

Under the capacity proposal, all airlines operating at Newark and JFK would be given up to 20 slots a day for the 10-year life of the rule. The proposal offers two options for JFK.  Under the first, 10 percent of the airline’s slots above the 20-slot baseline would be made available via an auction.  The revenue from those auctions would then be invested in congestion and capacity improvements in the region.

Under the second option for JFK, the airlines would auction 20 percent of slots above the 20-slot baseline and keep all of the proceeds.  The Secretary noted that, depending on the option, between 91 and 179 slots would be affected out of 1,245 total slots at the airport.

The DOT also calls for auctioning 10 percent of slots at Newark Airport above the baseline annually for the first five years of the rule.  As a result, only 96 slots out of a total of 1,219 slots at the airport would be auctioned over the 10-year span of the proposal.

The DOT will accept comments on the new proposal for the next 60 days.  For more information:

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