They’ve redefined an airline ticket – it’s time to fix that

OK, here’s an easy question: What’s an airline ticket?
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It’s time to tell the TSA what you really think of it — and for it to listen

Oleg/Shutterstock
Oleg/Shutterstock
Travelers love to complain about the TSA, and even though the agency assigned to protect America’s transportation systems claims to listen, most of us know better.

Don’t believe me? Try sending the agency an email, complaining about your last pat-down. Do you hear the sound of crickets? Me too.

But now a court has ordered the TSA to listen, and to pay attention — and maybe, if we’re lucky, to do something about it.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ordered the TSA to engage in something known as notice-and-comment rulemaking on its screening procedures, and specifically its use of full-body scanners. You can leave your comment at the Federal Register website until June 24th.
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Speak out now on the TSA’s full-body scanners

hyxdyl/Shutterstock
hyxdyl/Shutterstock
It’s been almost five years since the Transportation Security Administration quietly began installing its so-called Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) — better known as full-body scanners — at airports nationwide. And now the government wants to know what you think of the machines.

In 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the TSA to engage in what’s known as notice-and-comment rulemaking on its use of the technology. You can share your opinion on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at the Federal Register Web site until June 24.
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Where’s the outrage?

I have just one question in the wake of the Transportation Department’s so-called “historic” rulemaking on airline passenger rights.

Why isn’t the airline industry upset?

The new regulations will force airlines to disclose their fees more clearly, increases denied boarding compensation, requires airlines to reimburse checked baggage fees when they lose your luggage, and bans post-purchase fare increases, among other things.

And the industry’s reaction? It thanked the government.
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Are the government’s new airline consumer protection rules good for passengers?

After months of comments and deliberation, the Transportation Department this morning released its final consumer protection rules for airline passengers.

I covered the proposed rulemaking extensively on this site last year. Here’s a side-by-side comparison between the proposed and final rule (PDF).
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Air travelers, let your voices be heard

The federal government is giving travelers an extra month to comment on proposed new consumer rules for airline passengers.

You now have until Sept. 23 to let the Transportation Department know what you think of the regulations, which will affect everything from how an airfare is quoted to whether peanuts will be served on a plane.

Even with my God-given gift for hyperbole, it would be hard to understate the importance of this initiative for air travelers, which is why I’m writing about it again.

The earlier column drew an unusually large number of responses, the most common one being, “What’s the Web address for Regulation Room?”

Easy: www.regulationroom.org.
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Government will require airlines to offer “complete picture” of ground delays

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of posts about the Transportation Department’s sweeping new airline passenger protection rules. Here’s the first one. Please take a moment to comment on these proposed rules at Regulationroom.org. The future of air travel depends on it.

Attention, airlines: The government wants to know more about your tarmac delays.

Actually, it wants to know everything.

This week’s massive Transportation Department rulemaking contains a provision that would require airlines that must adopt tarmac-delay contingency plans to also file delay data with the department. If it’s passed, the result could be an insight into tarmac delays unlike any we’ve ever had.
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New tarmac delay contingency plans — what’s in it for you?

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of posts about the Transportation Department’s sweeping new airline passenger protection rules, which I wrote about yesterday on this site and in a special edition of my MSNBC column. Please take a moment to comment on these proposed rules at Regulationroom.org. The future of air travel depends on it.

There may be reason why the first order of business in the Transportation Department’s new rulemaking on passenger rights addresses the problem of tarmac delays. These rare but completely needless ground delays have been a political hotbutton, leading to previous action by the department that effectively bans airlines from keeping passengers parked on a taxiway for more than three hours.

But apparently, the rule didn’t go far enough.
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Proposed government rule would force airlines to disclose “full price” of tickets

Today’s sweeping rulemaking proposal by the Transportation Department is so enormous, it can’t be analyzed in a single post. But let’s not bury the lede as they say in journalism: The government wants to do us all a big favor by requiring airlines to post a “full price” — including all mandatory fees.

You can read the entire document here (.DOC).

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New airline rules address tarmac delays, retroactive contract changes, disclosures

Our friends at the Transportation Department have unleashed a blizzard of airline rule changes on us this morning. They’re being characterized as an early Christmas present for air travelers — particularly those with lengthy tarmac delays. And the government is not done yet.

But read the actual rule, and the DOT’s nuanced discussion of its final rulemaking (PDF), and a different picture emerges.

(A lot of people have asked me what I think of the changes. They’re fine. But I’d be naive to believe these revisions will improve the air travel experience for a majority of us. Like the “passenger rights” movement itself, this only helps a small fraction of special-interest air travelers. The airline industry and I are kind of in agreement when it comes to the issue of tarmac delays.)

Here are the big changes:
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