Rep. Mike Thompson Applauds the Enactment of DOT's New Airline Passenger Protections
Aug 23, 2011 -
Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-1) today applauded U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the Department of Transportation (DOT) for enacting tough new airline passenger protections, including a rigorous ban on lengthy tarmac delays for international flights and increasing the compensation a passenger can receive if bumped from an oversold flight. Many of the protections beginning today are included in the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights Act of 2011 (H.R. 729), a bill Rep. Thompson introduced in February.
“I am pleased that the Department of Transportation continues to strengthen the protections given to airline passengers when they travel,” said Rep. Thompson. “For years, airlines have resisted offering passengers the option to deplane during excessive delays, or providing basic necessities like food, water, or even access to working toilets. For the first time, today’s new rules will ensure the comfort and safety of the flying public regardless if they are traveling domestically or internationally.”
“Since 2009, the DOT has shown great initiative by taking action to stop the airline industry’s worst abuses, but there’s still more work to be done,” Rep. Thompson continued. “Because these rules aren’t written into law, they can be rescinded at any time. My bill, the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights Act of 2011, would strengthen the protections announced by Secretary LaHood through an act of Congress and ensure that passengers can rely on them for years to come. That’s why I will continue fighting to get this legislation signed into law or included in a long overdue FAA Reauthorization.”
Specifically, the DOT’s new rule expands the existing ban on lengthy tarmac delays to cover foreign airlines’ operation at U.S. airports and establishes a four hour time limit on tarmac delays for international flights. Carriers must also ensure that passengers stuck on the tarmac are provided adequate food and water after two hours, as well as working restrooms. Exceptions to the four hour rule will only be allowed for safety, security, or air traffic control reasons.
In addition to the four hour rule for international flights, the DOT will also require airlines to reimburse bag fees if luggage is lost and compensate individuals who are bumped off flights. Air carriers will also be required to clearly disclose the fees charged for checked baggage, meals, canceling or changing reservations, and advanced or upgraded seating. The DOT’s new rules were initially announced in April of this year.