When the Transportation Department (DOT) announced new “enhanced” protections for air travelers last week, the reaction was predictable. Airlines complained loudly that they were being re-regulated. Consumer groups offered a collective eye-roll, grumbling that it wasn’t enough. And the government cheerfully congratulated itself. “New DOT initiatives target airlines’ baggage fees and price transparency. Are they enough?”
Today’s From The Trenches case is about an airline that may or may not be cheating on a federal regulation that helps consumers.
The regulation: The 24-hour rule.
“Is American Airlines cheating on the 24-hour rule?”
Government fines against airlines for consumer rule violations are on track to hit a six-year low as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s enforcement actions shift from punishment to preventing infractions. With only a few weeks left in 2014, the DOT has issued 23 consent orders that assess $2.6 million in penalties — $4.5 million less than last year. That’s the same number as in 2009.
“Federal government wraps up quiet year for traveler protections”
Although the U.S. Department of Transportation fined seven airlines a total of $1.7 million last year for violating its controversial tarmac-delay rule, most of it went straight to the U.S. Treasury. Why isn’t the money awarded to the passengers who sat on planes for hours before taking off?
“Who really benefits when airlines are penalized?”
To get an idea how much airlines hate, hate, hate the 24-hour rule, consider the unbelievable case of Michael Kalman’s recent attempted ticket purchase on XL Airways.
“Flags and other funny ways around the 24-hour rule”