After Samantha Gomez is denied boarding on a flight from Philadelphia to Palm Beach, Florida, she asks her airline for compensation. Why won’t it pay? “Bumped from my flight to Palm Beach — why won’t American pay up?”
The U.S. Transportation Department surprised the travel world last month by suspending the creation of an important new consumer-protection regulation. “Transportation department taps brakes on proposed regulation requiring disclosure of airline fees”
Kendra Thornton is an unlikely candidate for government aid, but when Frontier Airlines recently denied her a seat on a flight from Chicago to Denver, that’s exactly what she got.
“As airline complaints soar, the government comes to the rescue”
Ask travelers what the federal government did for them this year, and you’ll probably get a shrug, at best — or a rant about sequestration, national park closings and the Transportation Security Administration, at worst.
But there’s actually a specific answer: Federal agencies did a lot more than you might think. And, in at least one prominent case, a lot less.
When it comes to consumer protections, two agencies carried much of the water in 2013: the Department of Transportation (DOT), which oversees airlines and motorcoach safety in the United States, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which has a broad jurisdiction ranging from time-share sales to hotels. This year, the U.S. Department of Justice also played a central role in protecting travelers with a halfhearted attempt to block the creation of the nation’s largest airline.
“What did federal agencies do for travelers in 2013?”
Kathleen and Eugene Bianucci paid $5,770 for a pair of round-trip tickets between San Francisco and Dublin this year on Virgin Atlantic Airways. A few days before their trip, Kathleen, a fitness instructor from San Bruno, Calif., broke her leg and had to be hospitalized for a week. Her doctor grounded her for six months, and when she told the airline about the accident, a representative promised her a full refund.
“Are lax rules slowing down airline ticket refunds?”