New Rules from the DoT

The Department of  Transportation has announced new rules governing airline behaviour in a variety of areas that should become firm in about 120 days.  First off:  Baggage fees.

Airlines will be required to refund baggage fees in the event that the airline loses a piece of checked baggage.  This, to me, is a no brainer and I’m going to make a prediction that airlines are going to cast about to find a loophole in this rule.  I think someone is going to try to change the “contract” for carrying this luggage.   Airlines are going to be faced with a lot of demands for refunds as a result of this and not only is that lost revenue, it also spells out additional costs in managing those refunds.

International airlines will have a “4-hour” rule mandating departure take place within 4 hours of leaving the gate.  They’ll also be required to supply food and water after 2 hours.  I think this is a fine idea and, frankly, I would even support a change of the domestic rule to 4 hours as well.  Both would be reasonable in my opinion. 

Airlines will be required to prominently display all potential fees and taxes for their fares on their websites.  I’m still trying to find the rules so that I can read them but I do wonder if this requirement applies to fares displayed on websites (and other venues) maintained by other companies.  Regardless, this one is a no brainer to me.  Airlines should be required to have a bit more transparency in this area.   Now it is time for consumers to step up and *read* what they are buying.

The airline industry response to this is roughly “Rules Bad!  Market forces good!” 

No, not really.  There is such a thing as too much regulation.  However, airlines are huge corporations with a lot of power on their side.  To act as if individual consumers can force this change if they want it is disingenous.  Government regulation is also good and in these cases, it’s about leveling the playing field between the consumers and the airlines. 

However, I’ll also say that I believe that with these rules, the playing field is leveled and it is now up to the consumers to do their work.  It’s time to read what is displayed with respect to the fares you are shopping.  It’s up to you to claim your baggage fee refund.  And it’s time to stop acting like every departure delay is a conspiracy against you.  In short, it is time to act like responsible adults instead of like children enjoying a temper tantrum.  You are getting what you asked for so now you need to step up and behave appropriately as well.

2 Responses to “New Rules from the DoT”

  1. I think these changes are inevitable.

  2. In short, it is time to act like responsible adults instead of like children enjoying a temper tantrum.

    You get the FAs to act that way, and we’ll see about getting the passengers to fall in.

    -R

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