What’s in the FAA funding bill for passengers?

The Federal Aviation Administration funding bill is out this morning, and while everyone else is focused on privatizing air traffic control, there are a few noteworthy proposals that will directly affect you.

As a reminder, the FAA bill is the best opportunity in four years to fix what’s wrong with flying. So it’s something to be taken seriously, but not too seriously. The markup session happens next week, and that’s where the rubber hits the runway.

Here’s the full text of HR. 4441.

Among the highlights: new rules regarding kids and seat assignments, prohibitions on voice communications and refunds on checked baggage that’s delayed.

See Title V for the details. Let’s go through them one by one. I’ve edited them for brevity and skipped one or two that were procedural. I’ve also offered a helpful English translation.

Families traveling together

It shall be an unfair or deceptive practice under subsection (a) for any ticket agent, air carrier, foreign air carrier, or other person offering to sell tickets for air transportation to fail to disclose, whether verbally in oral communication or in writing in written or electronic communication, prior to an individual’s purchase of more than 1 ticket for a covered flight, the notification in paragraph (2), if such purchase includes a ticket for a child.

In other words, tell us if we can’t sit with our kids.

Prohibition on certain cell phone voice communications

The Secretary of Transportation shall issue regulations to prohibit an individual on an aircraft from engaging in voice communications using a mobile communications device during a flight of that aircraft in scheduled passenger interstate or intrastate air transportation.

No chatting on the plane. Because Chairman Shuster said so, that’s why.

Use of new technologies

The Secretary shall periodically evaluate the benefits of using mobile phone applications or other widely-used technologies to provide new means for air passengers to communicate complaints in addition to the telephone number established under subsection (a) and shall provide such new means as the Secretary determines appropriate.

File your airline complaint on Snapchat. Way to get with the times, guys.

Improved notification of insecticide use

An air carrier, foreign air carrier, or ticket agent selling, in the United States, a ticket for a flight in foreign air transportation to a country listed on the Internet Web site established under subsection (a) shall disclose, on its own Internet Web site or through other means, that the destination country may require the air carrier or foreign air carrier to treat an aircraft passenger cabin with insecticides prior to the flight or to apply an aerosol insecticide in an aircraft cabin used for such a flight when the cabin is occupied with passengers.

The “say before you spray” law. OK.

Refunds for delayed checked baggage

The Secretary shall initiate a rulemaking proceeding to require that air carriers to refund any baggage fees charged to a passenger for checked baggage on a flight in scheduled passenger interstate or intrastate air transportation if the checked baggage of that passenger is not delivered within the 24-hour period beginning at the time of the arrival of the flight of the passenger at the destination at which the passenger was to retrieve the checked baggage.

You mean, they aren’t already doing this? Seriously?

It’s really astounding that in a 273-page bill to fund the FAA, they could only find a few paragraphs for consumers. I guess that’s how much we mean to Congress.

The FAA reauthorization bill is ...

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