Wednesday, October 19, 2016
The U.S. Department of Transportation issued a press release yesterday informing the public about a host of forthcoming measures that could be fairly categorized as consumer protections for airline passengers. Impending changes include broadening reporting requirements for on-time performance and baggage mishandling to include more carriers and flights operated by code-share partners, as well as more precise reporting of mishandled baggage and new reporting requirements for mishandled wheelchairs. The DOT also issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking that will eventually lead to a requirement that airlines refund baggage fees when bags are substantially delayed. And the DOT signaled an intent to crack down on instances of undisclosed bias by online ticket brokers in favor of specific airlines. None of the proposed changes promise to be overly consequential, but they reflect an ongoing preference in U.S. aviation for addressing what has been referred to elsewhere as "passenger rights" via minor regulatory tweaks as opposed to sweeping legislative enactments.