Will a new bill hold the travel industry accountable?

Imagine a world where your cruise line or airline pays you if it fails to keep its schedule, you aren’t penalized for a canceled reservation if your hotel is able to resell the room and ticket change fees are related to the actual cost of changing your flight schedule.

Impossible, right?

Phones on planes, a matter of choice.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering a proposal that would require airlines to notify passengers if they allow the use of mobile wireless devices, such as smartphones, to make telephone calls and to send messages while in the air.

The government is also seeking comments on whether to prohibit airlines from allowing voice calls on such devices and you have until Feb. 13 to give it a piece of your mind, and I suggest you do.

“The Department of Transportation has used a bazooka to kill an ant”

The long-awaited sequel to this summer’s controversial tarmac delay study has just been released. In it, aviation analysts Darryl Jenkins and Joshua Marks claim 384,000 more passengers were stranded by cancellations last summer, and an additional 49,600 air travelers experienced gate returns and delays. It calls on the Transportation Department to clarify its three-hour turnback rule — a rule the DOT insists is a resounding success. I asked Jenkins about the study and its conclusions this morning. Here’s our interview.

LaHood on Spirit’s carry-on baggage fees: “We’re gonna hold the airline’s feet to the fire on this”

Spirit Airlines’ decision to begin charging passengers for carry-on luggage — and lowering some fares to a penny — has caught the attention of the federal government, as many predicted it would. In part one of our exclusive interview with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, we talk about fees, consumer protection and the future of airline service

The ultimate punishment? Internet travel agency faces record fine for advertising violations

The online travel agency Ultimate Fares faces $600,000 in government fines for failing to include taxes and service fees in its airfares, a U.S. Department of Transportation Administrative Law Judge has ruled. The fine would be the largest ever assessed for advertising violations, according to regulators.

Can the government regulate fees for checked baggage? The Transportation Department has a canned answer

And it’s the wrong answer. In a recent column about luggage, I suggested that a simple rulemaking by the Transportation Department could compel airlines to include one piece of checked luggage as part of the base fare. I recommended that readers write the DOT to let it know they supported such action.

Delta and United face steep fines for codesharing, denied-boarding violations

In a surprise move, the Department of Transportation has fined two airlines for failing to disclose codesharing flights and disregarding their denied-boarding rules. United Airlines faces $80,000 in penalties for neglecting to inform travelers that certain flights were operated by another airline. And Delta Air Lines is being fined $375,000 for bumping passengers from its flights without compensation.

Government says airlines are responsible for valuables checked on international flights

When Pina Belfiore-Benvenuto’s bags were lost on a recent flight from New York to Paris, the missing contents included a digital camera and a watch — two items that her airline’s contract of carriage exclude from liability. And to absolutely no one’s surprise, her carrier told her she was out of luck. Maybe it shouldn’t have.

It’s official: airlines must double compensation for bumped passengers

Just in time for the busy summer travel season, the Transportation Department this morning announced a series of steps designed to calm the frayed nerves of air travelers, including a new rule that doubles the limit on compensation airlines must pay passengers who are involuntarily bumped from their flight.

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