web Musings of The Global Traveller

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Airline passenger rights in USA improved

Thanks to a tip-off from Rick Seaney, I learned today that the Department of Transportation (DOT) has improved airline passenger rights in USA. No, this is not the passenger bill of rights that some have been calling for and has been on and off in the news for months.

Rather, the rules for compensation for denied boarding (or involuntary denied boarding aka IDB) are being improved 25 years after they were set. The press release is light on details but refers to compensation limits being doubled and also extended to include 30 to 59 seat aircraft (the old rules only covered 60+ seat aircraft. The detail (and reasoning) can be found on the DOT website here.

In summary.

Old rules - 100% of ticket value to next stopover to max $200 if delay is 1-2 hours (1-4 hours for international), 200% to max $400 if delay is over 2 (or 4 for international) hours. This on top of the provision of transport or refund. Only applies to aircraft with 60+ seats.

New rules - as above but with $400 and $800 limits. DOT acknowledges this increase does not fully reflect inflation. Only applies to aircraft with 30+ seats.

Under the new rules an exemption applies for aircraft with 30 to 59 seats where for safety reasons either a smaller aircraft must be substituted or payload restricted. Hopefully this exemption does not get abused by airlines (eg by excessive overbooking in situations where payload restrictions are reasonably forseeable or likely) as much as European airlines trying to wiggle out of their EU passenger rights compensation obligations.

The rules don't come into effect for at least another 30 days, but it is promising that DOT refers to next month. So while the exact date isn't yet published it should be before 1 June 2008.

No comments: