The government wants airlines to provide better information—and compensation—to passengers.
The U.S. Department of Transportation passed new regulations this week in an effort to make flying less miserable and more transparent.
The regulations are meant to ensure that passengers are given clear information about flight delays, are fairly compensated when luggage arrives late, and are able to easily access data about their airline.
“These actions will enable passengers to make well-informed decisions when arranging travel, ensure that airlines treat consumers fairly, and give consumers a voice in how airlines are regulated,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.
However, some are criticizing the new regulations, saying that because of their vague wording they will not have a significant impact in passenger experience.
One of the biggest changes is the requirement that airlines refund baggage fees when the arrival of baggage is “substantially delayed.” But unless there’s a strict definition of what that means, airlines could bend the rules, Kate Hanni, former director and founder of FlyersRights.org, told NBC News.
Airlines have received an “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” however it’s unclear when the new rule will go into effect.
Starting January 2018, customers will have a better understanding of on-time statistics for airlines. Current regulations do not require that major airlines report performance from feeder airlines—for example, Delta does not include on-time listings for Delta Connection flights. Once the new regulations go into effect, customers will be able to see on-time data from these feeder airlines as well as that of smaller, regional airlines.
Airlines will also now have to report how often they mishandle wheelchairs and travel websites will be required to disclose any relationships they have with airlines that could affect search results.
The DOT also announced that they are examining requiring airlines’ disclosure of ancillary fees, new customer service standards for travel agents and new definitions of “ticket agent.”