U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx /Courtesy photo
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx /Courtesy photo

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently issued an emergency order to ban all Samsung Galaxy Note7 cellphones from airplanes, a first step in a number of actions to enhance protections for air travelers ahead of the holiday season.

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx announced Wednesday, Oct. 19 that the actions of the department represent their continued commitment to ensuring that passengers are treated fairly by the airline industry.

An executive order was also issued by President Obama directing federal agencies to identify specific actions to relieve burdens on competition and better inform consumers.

“If you’ve followed DOT’s Fast Lane blog over the last few years, you know that the Obama administration believes that airline passengers deserve to have access to clear and complete information about the airlines they choose to fly, and to expect fair and reasonable treatment when they fly,” Foxx said. “The actions we’re taking today and in the coming months will expand aviation consumer protections we have previously enacted, and will enable passengers to make well-informed decisions when arranging travel, ensure that airlines treat consumers fairly, and give consumers a voice in how airlines are regulated.”

Changes Coming Soon

Requiring Refunds for Delayed Baggage: The DOT issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which will ultimately result in a requirement that airlines refund consumers’ baggage fees when their luggage is substantially delayed.

The DOT has previously taken steps to require airlines to reimburse bag fees when bags are lost.

Expanding the Number of Carriers Required to Report Data: The pool of U.S. carriers required to report information to the Department about their on-time performance, oversells, and mishandled baggage rates will increase.

Providing Consumers with a Clearer Picture of Baggage Delivery: Airlines will have to report to DOT their total number of mishandled bags and total number of checked bags. Previously, they were only required to report the number of mishandled baggage reports, which were compared to the overall number of travelers. This measure better informs passengers of the likelihood that their baggage will be mishandled rather than receiving their checked baggage in good condition in an acceptable and timely manner.

Prohibiting Undisclosed Bias by Airlines and Online Ticket Agents: Airlines and online travel sites that display and sell airline tickets are prohibited from any bias on behalf of certain airlines on how they present available flights for purchase without disclosing the bias.

Protecting Air Travelers with Disabilities: The largest U.S. airlines will be required to report on how often they mishandle wheelchairs.

Giving Consumers a Voice: The DOT announced the extension of its Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection, a body that is responsible for evaluating the department’s aviation consumer protection programs and recommending such new programs as needed.

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Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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