DOT's Forecast: Fair Skies Ahead for Air Travelers

Whether it's ensuring respect for civil rights, pursuing more transparent fare advertising, or improving passenger treatment during tarmac delays, if you're thinking about traveling by air, this team has your back, says Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood in his recent blog post. praising the DOT's Office of Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement.

"For example, to boost the 2010 tarmac delay rules, last April the office extended passenger protections during tarmac delays to those traveling on international flights or on domestic flights operated by foreign or regional carriers. The April 2011 rule also called for an end to the practice of excluding taxes and fees from the advertised price of airline tickets, and required that the price advertised for air fares include all mandatory fees," LaHood writes.

"Airlines are also required to list optional service fees on the first page of their websites. These provisions will reduce the frustration and sense of having been misled that many air travel consumers endured in the past."

The Air Carrier Access Act makes it clear that that airline passengers with disabilities should have equal access to the same services as all other travelers, LaHood says. "So in October, we proposed a regulation that would require airlines and ticket agents to make their websites and automated kiosks accessible to individuals with disabilities."

"In November, the Department issued a consent order against American Eagle for failure to adhere to the carrier's contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays, which said they would not permit a domestic flight to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without providing passengers an opportunity to deplane.  Investigators found that on May 29, the airline forced a total of 608 passengers on 15 flights to remain on the tarmac at O'Hare International Airport for more than three hours without the opportunity to deplane," LaHood reports.

"2011 was a good year for fairness in air travel thanks to the hard work of the Office of Airline Consumer Protection and Enforcement," LaHood concluded. "But DOT is not about to rest easy; the outlook for 2012 is even fairer."


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