The DOT has fined fewer airlines this year. Should you be worried?

If it seems as if airlines are getting away with more passenger-unfriendly behavior, maybe it’s because they are.

The Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the Department of Transportation (DOT), which is responsible for enforcing federal consumer-protection regulations, is on track to punish significantly fewer airlines this year, issuing 18 consent orders for $3.1 million in civil penalties. By comparison, the DOT had 29 orders worth $6.4 million for 2016, which included a $1.6 million fine against American Airlines for violating its tarmac delay rules handed down in mid-December. Barring a last-minute flurry of penalties, 2017 will be a much quieter year for the department.

Did this traveler really abandon his dog “curbside” at the airport?

Aron Szekely’s complaint stunned our advocates — but not in the way he had hoped. When American Airlines refused to allow his faithful dog on a flight to Japan, did this military man simply abandon the animal at the airport?

No, your cat can’t fly on United without a pre-booked reservation

Mark O’Brien contacted us after he and his cat were denied boarding on a United Airlines flight because he did not make the required reservation for his pet. This is a great reminder to read all the terms and conditions before booking an airline ticket, especially if you’re bringing a pet onboard. Or else you could end up with a paws in your travel plans.

I didn’t like United’s first compensation offer, so I countered it — twice

If at first you don’t succeed, try. And try again, just like Gail Morin.

Here’s what happened when Morin’s 9:15 a.m. flight from Paris to San Francisco was delayed several times because of mechanical problems — first, a glitch with a generator, then a misbehaving heating and cooling system. All told, Morin was delayed four hours.

Holland America changed our flight home — but didn’t inform us

Allen Mcdowell and his wife book a cruise package with flights. When they arrive at the airport for the return trip, they learn that their flight is changed. But, they aren’t notified of the change and they miss the flight. They have to buy new tickets, and can’t get their money back. Can our advocates help them get reimbursed?

How did a ticketing mistake cost this traveler $675?

When Krishna Addanki used the travel website ExploreTrip to reserve a flight to India, he relied on the site to correctly book him and his infant child on United Airlines. But when he arrived at the airport, a United representative told him that his child wasn’t booked on the flight – and he couldn’t fly that day.

After our emergency landing, shouldn’t United provide me a meal and a hotel?

A mechanical failure causes Timothy Spinner’s United Airlines flight to make an emergency landing. Although the airline promises to reimburse Spinner for bag fee, meal and hotel expenses after his return home, he can’t get anyone at United to respond to his claims. Can our advocates obtain reimbursement for Spinner’s incidental costs?

This traveler says that he doesn’t understand trip insurance so he didn’t buy it. Now he needs it.

When Solomon Gizaw purchases his air tickets for a trip to Africa, he doesn’t buy travel insurance. Now he has to cancel his trip for medical reasons, but he doesn’t want to pay a change fee. Can our advocates help him get it waived?

Can you help my neighbor with this invalid United ticket?

When Silvania da Silva booked air tickets on United and Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras through the online travel site OneTravel (a brand of Fareportal), she expected to be able to board her flights. But Azul denied her boarding, saying the fare hadn’t been paid — even though she had paid for her tickets when she made the booking.

Are you as confused as these travelers about United’s upgrade system?

When Marco Lippman booked his United Airlines ticket for a flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt, Germany, he received a message that “four tickets were left at this price” that qualified for upgrades. But when he tried to upgrade his ticket, he found himself on a waitlist. And United’s website still contained a notation that upgraded tickets were available.

The timing of this toddler’s birthday cost this family an unexpected $4,000

Leslie Hillandahl and her husband received an unpleasant surprise recently, when they tried to check in for their return flight from Italy. If they wanted to bring their newly-turned-two-year-old son back home with them in business class, they would need to pay an additional $4,000.

Why a luggage delay does not entitle you to a ticket refund

Erin Hill is invited to be a bridesmaid in her friend’s destination wedding in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Air traffic delays cause her to miss her original flight to St. Thomas. Sympathetic to Hill’s situation, United routes her through Miami on another carrier. Arriving in St. Thomas that same night, she can still be in the wedding the next day as planned. But Hill’s luggage doesn’t make the trip. She’s forced to borrow clothes from her friend and misses participating in the wedding. Now Hill wants a full refund. Will our advocates be able to help her get it?

United we stand, if we’re overbooked you fall

Airline travel can be stressful. You get to the airport hours before your flight, endure the security checks and then spend time trying to find a seat in the departure terminal. And you spend a small fortune on something that is alleged to be food. Then, just when you thought the worst was over, you find out you might not be going anywhere because your flight is overbooked.

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