US steps up to tackle unfair airline consumer practices

An airplane takes off from Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, US, March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (Reuters) – The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced Monday that it is issuing a new rule to make it easier for regulators to act more quickly to protect airline customers from unfair and deceptive practices.

The new regulation, previously reported by Reuters, will simplify and speed up the hearing procedures the department uses when issuing protection rules to ban unfair or deceptive practices by airlines and ticket agents.

The USDOT is planning future rules for airfare refunds and transparency of baggage and other fees. It will also soon provide guidance on the definitions of “unfair” and “deceptive” for the purpose of protecting airline customers, the department said in a statement.

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Under the new rules, the Department of Airlines or others who want to hear about proposed government regulations about unfair aviation practices will require them to act more quickly, make it clear that hearings will only be allowed if it is in the public interest, and eliminate the requirement that hearers provide detailed information. issue reports.

“This rule improves the Department’s ability to issue rules in a timely manner that protect airline consumers from unfair and deceptive practices, a responsibility the Department takes seriously,” said Deputy Transport Secretary Polly Trottenberg.

Airlines for America, a trading group of airlines, did not immediately comment.

Speaking at a meeting of the White House Competition Council on Monday, President Joe Biden said the effort would lead to “greater clarity in the true price you pay for high-speed Internet services and airfare.”

USDOT said last year it planned to issue a separate proposed rule to require advance disclosure of baggage fees, change fees and cancellation fees. Under existing US rules, passengers are entitled to a refund of travel expenses if luggage is lost, but not in the event of a delay.

USDOT proposed new rules last year to require passenger airlines to refund fees for baggage that has been significantly delayed and refunds for services such as in-flight Wi-Fi that don’t work.

In September, the Biden administration said it would award 16 slots for flights at Newark International Airport in New Jersey to a yet-to-be-defined low-cost carrier and said it could take action to boost competition at other major airports.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler, Mark Porter and Karishma Singh

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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