Will new airline regulations help passengers — or hurt airlines?

At 36,361 words, the document laying out the latest proposed Transportation Department passenger protection rule is an epic, a few pages longer than Franz Kafka’s novella “The Metamorphosis.”
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Did United offer me compensation for a rough night in the ballroom?

united tailAmanda Ellis says she was “very upset” after her United Airlines flight from Honolulu to the Marshall Islands was canceled because of a sick crewmember.

It wasn’t the one-day delay. Ellis, her husband and seven-year-old son were flying to the islands to adopt their daughter. It wasn’t even the fact that they spent the night under less than desirable circumstances.

It was the way in which the airline tried to compensate the family for the inconvenience, she says.

The Ellises had done everything by the book — or at least, they thought they had.
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Government set record for airline fines in 2012 — is that good news for passengers?

vapor trailA more activist Transportation Department, which set a record in 2011 for the number of fines it issued against airlines for violating aviation consumer protection rules, appears to have maintained its momentum this past year.

In 2012, the Department issued 49 fines for consumer rule violations and assessed $3,610,000 in penalties, exceeding the previous record of 47 fines and $3,264,000 in penalties issued in 2011.

Among its most significant actions: policing new rules that require airlines and travel agencies to quote a full fare and disclose baggage fees, and fining the first foreign airline for a tarmac delay.

“Consumers deserve to be treated fairly when they fly,” says Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who called protecting air travelers’ rights “a high priority.”
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Should I have been charged extra for my checked luggage?

Question: I traveled to Europe on a codeshare flight between Delta Air Lines and KLM. Before I left the United States, I carefully checked the size and weight restrictions for my two bags on both the Delta and KLM websites, because I’m an artist and I needed to take rolls of paper with me. I made sure my bags complied.

The trip from Portland, Ore., to Copenhagen, Denmark went off without a hitch; I paid $50 to check a second bag. However, on the flight from Toulouse, France, to Portland, Ore., I had to pay 200 Euros for the second bag. When the gate agent saw my second bag, she declared it “too long,” she never measured it. Although the flight was on KLM, the airport staff worked for Air France. There was no KLM or Delta presence that I could find in that airport.
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Travelocity promised me a refund — did it do enough?

Thank goodness for the new 24-hour rule. That’s what Joan Weiner thought when she booked an airline ticket from Philadelphia to Vienna through Travelocity, only to find a cheaper fare a few hours later.
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What’s wrong with air travel?

What’s your biggest airline problem?

That’s a question I ask almost every day, and it’s coincidentally one that a new Transportation Department panel is trying to answer.
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What to do when your airline tells you to shut up

Ryan Ludtke’s family vacation in Fort Myers, Fla., ended on a bad note when they flew back to Chicago on Spirit Airlines.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking: Of course it did. He was flying on Spirit Airlines.

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New airline rules yet to be enforced, even as DOT levies record fines

Back in August, you might recall, the Transportation Department adopted a set of tough new consumer-protection rules to help airline passengers. In January, it added even more.
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New rules for airline fees are a partial victory for travelers

If airfares confuse you as much as they confuse me, then I have some good news: Several new rules are going to make it easier to calculate the total cost of a ticket.

Maybe.

Starting Jan. 26, a new U.S. Transportation Department rule will require airlines to include all taxes and fees in their advertised fares. Other provisions of the rule — banning post-purchase price increases and allowing passengers to hold certain reservations without payment or to cancel them without penalty for 24 hours after booking — will take effect Jan. 24.
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