FlyersRights Announces Two Major Wins for Airline Passengers with New DOT Rules – Travel And Tour World

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has introduced two final rules aimed at safeguarding airline passengers’ rights and curbing prevalent deceptive practices in the industry.

The first rule, “To Protect Consumers from Surprise Airline Junk Fees,” mandates that airlines and ticket agents must display specific fees—including those for carry-on and checked baggage, as well as change and cancellation fees—prominently on the initial sales screen. This measure addresses the separation of base fares from additional service charges that has led to increased ancillary fee revenue and consumer confusion over the last 15 years. The DOT notes a 30% rise in baggage fees from 2018 to 2022, significantly outstripping overall revenue growth in the sector.

The advocacy group FlyersRights has played a key role in highlighting these issues through its Bill of Rights, regulatory suggestions, and active participation in DOT hearings and the Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee.

Paul Hudson, President of FlyersRights, noted, “This marks a significant victory in the war against ‘Gotcha Fees’. The airlines argue that they want competition, and this rule provides the transparency that is necessary for that competition. Having critical ancillary fee information available to the consumer on the first page where they can purchase a ticket increases airline competition and the ability to comparison shop.”

The second rule introduced by the DOT mandates automatic refunds for canceled flights, significant schedule changes, and situations involving public health emergencies or passengers with serious communicable diseases. Airlines are now required to issue automatic refunds if a flight is canceled or substantially rescheduled—defined as a three-hour shift for domestic flights and a six-hour shift for international routes—unless the passenger agrees to an alternate flight. Additionally, the rule allows for a transferable travel voucher, valid for at least five years, under certain health-related circumstances.

These regulations, crafted to prevent unfair and deceptive practices, will start being phased in within six months and are expected to be fully in place within 18 to 24 months.

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