U.S. un­veils rules to pro­tect air pas­sen­gers

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND NATION - By Hugo Martin

LOS AN­GE­LES — If an air­line de­lays re­turn­ing your lug­gage after a flight, you will get a re­fund for your bag fee, un­der a new set of con­sumer-pro­tec­tion rules the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion plans to adopt.

Among other changes, the ad­min­is­tra­tion is call­ing on air­lines to more ac­cu­rately re­port on-time ar­rival rates, the num­ber of times wheel­chair re­quests are fum­bled and the rate of lost or mis­han­dled lug­gage.

The reg­u­la­tions an­nounced Wed­nes­day are part of an ef­fort that be­gan when the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion first took of­fice and vowed to im­pose tough con­sumer pro­tec­tion rules on the coun­try’s air­lines.

“The travel com­mu­nity is grate­ful that the ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to shine a light on many of the more frus­trat­ing is­sues that ail the air travel ex­pe­ri­ence,” Roger Dow, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the U.S. Travel As­so­ci­a­tion, the trade group for the na­tion’s travel in­dus­try, said about the new rules.

But a trade group for the na­tion’s air­lines warned that too many reg­u­la­tions could back­fire and not achieve the de­sired re­sults.

“Ef­forts de­signed to rereg­u­late how air­lines dis­trib­ute their prod­ucts and ser­vices are bad for air­line cus­tomers, em­ploy­ees, the com­mu­ni­ties we serve and our over­all U.S. econ­omy,” said Ni­cholas Calio, pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Air­lines for Amer­ica.

Air­lines are al­ready re- quired by the De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion to re­im­burse checked bag fees if a bag is lost. Un­der the new rules, air­lines would have to re­fund the fees if a bag is “sub­stan­tially de­layed,” though the term has yet to be de­fined.

The new re­port­ing re­quire­ments will take ef­fect Jan. 1, 2018; the other reg­u­la­tions will take ef­fect 30 days after the changes are pub­lished in the Fed­eral Reg­is­ter.

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