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May 21, 2014

DOT proposes new consumer protection rules on airfares

The U.S. Department of Transportation proposed new rules on Wednesday that would require airlines to disclose checked bag fees and other airline service fees when a traveler purchases a ticket.

The consumer protection rules are the latest proposal from the DOT which has enacted new rules in the past few years to strengthen travelers' rights, including limiting tarmac delays.

"Knowledge is power, and our latest proposal helps ensure consumers have clear and accurate information when choosing among air transportation options," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement.

The proposed rule would require airlines and ticket agents to disclose fees for additional services such as bag fees and seat assignment fees at the time of purchase. The DOT would also include online travel sites like Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity in its definition of travel agencies.

The proposal also would require large travel agents to respond promptly to customer complaints and allow customers to hold a reservation at the quoted fare without payment or to cancel without penalty for 24 hours if the reservation is made more than one week before departure.

The DOT would also expand its list of airliners that are required to report monthly information on on-time performance, oversales and mishandled bags.

The public and the industry has 90 days to submit comments on the proposed rules.

-Andrea Ahles


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