Is American Airlines cheating on the 24-hour rule?

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.
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Airline service complaints rise to 13-year high in 2014, led by American Airlines

The number of airline service complaints rose 17.9 percent in 2014 to 15,532, up from 13,176 a year before, according to figures released by the Department of Transportation (DOT) today.
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Federal government wraps up quiet year for traveler protections

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.
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Who really benefits when airlines are penalized?

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?
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Flags and other funny ways around the 24-hour rule

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.
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