Ever shop online for airfares and end up thoroughly frustrated with the process? On one website you will find a flight at a price that looks fabulous and on another site the same itinerary costs considerably more. This happens within sites that provide cost comparisons as well. Why the discrepancy? Because until now some sites posted rates included taxes and fees and other listed only the cost of the flight.
Last week new regulations went into effect requiring airlines, travel sites and person to person travel agents to include all those hidden fees (the mandatory ones, anyway) that drive the actual cost of that great deal up, up and away. These requirements by the Department of Transportation (DOT) are intended to provide consumers with more transparency. In other words fewer surprises on the final tally.
Also, baggage fees and limitations along with other secondary fees must be prominently displayed in a single place on the site or disclosed by the agent. No more hunting for hidden fees and restrictions.
Additionally, customers may hold a reservation without payment for up to 24 hours or cancel within the same timeframe, without penalty. This applies only to reservations booked one week or more prior to departure.
New rules prohibit post-reservation fare increases except those related to increased or new government taxes.
Airlines are now requires to notify passengers of flight delays greater than 30-minutes, cancellations and diversions. Notice must be given either at the boarding gate, via telephone or on the company’s website.
These most recent changes are in addition to other regulations put in place by the DOT which began August 1, 2011. Some of the earlier changes included, greater compensation if you are bumped from your flight. New regulations require compensation of $650 for short flights and $1300 for longer air travel or 200% and 400% respectively of one-way fare, whichever is less. Compensation requirements are to be adjusted every two-years based on inflation.
Also, the earlier changes included limiting tarmac delays for international flights to 4-hours and must include provisions for food and water.
It perplexes me as to why some of these regulations would be needed as they seem like common decency not to mention good customer relations. However, regulated or not, hopefully, these changes will make “flying the friendly skies,” just a little more (user) friendly.
Originally posted on Gypsytales01.wordpress.com, June 2011. Written by Susan Decoteau-Ferrier.