Airline Passengers Get Refunds, More Rights

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Airline passengers are getting a little more help from the federal government when it comes to their rights, and it all started a few years ago on a tarmac in Rochester, Minn.

Back in 2009, an ExpressJet Plane was stuck at a Rochester airport for six hours. There was no way to get off the plane and no working bathroom.

One of those 47 passengers stuck on the tarmac was Link Christian from St. Paul. Christian worked to help get an airline passengers’ bill of rights made into a rule with the U.S. Department of Transportation after his ordeal.

He told the CBS Early Show last year that “his nightmare flight” was one of the reasons why it needed to get passed. It worked, and the regulations went into effect March 2010.

On Wednesday, officials extended the rules. The tarmac-delay rule was widened and airlines will face penalties for international flights that are stuck for more than four hours.

Also, if an airline loses your luggage, they will not only have to pay for the contents, but also have to refund the fee you paid for your checked bag.

And if you get bumped from your flight, a short wait could mean you’re owed up to $650 and a longer wait would mean twice that much. Carriers will also have to do more to inform passengers about delays or cancelations — both at the airport and online.

“We want to make sure that passengers have some sort of rights when they get on these planes,” said Ray LaHood, the U.S. Transportation Secretary.

The expanded passenger bill of rights takes effect in August 2011.

  • gtV

    Finally, a US passenger bill of rights to hold the airlines accountable but don’t hold your breath.

    Airlines will definitely find ways around these new rules. Just wait until you are out of the USA jurisdiction and airspace. The airlines have you held hostage again. This is why for domestic travel [not extremely time critical], whenever possible for the short &/or medium trips, I take a train! It’s relaxing; I can get work done enroute, if necessary rest or enjoy a meal; and arrive refreshed to handle the tasks at hand. Also, I have never lost luggage etc. when I have traveled by train.

    Just think how convenient and efficient train travel will be when high speed rail {HSR} is implemented in this country. For those short &/or medium trips the train will definitely be giving the airlines competition! Probably will be cheaper, too.

    • Robert

      I agree. When you are out of the USA jurisdiction, the airline doesn’t have to follow the rule. I know it happened to me. Flying back from Frankfurt via Philly. US Airways was delayed, delayed, delayed. Not sure if it was the airlines fault or the airport. Although other flights were taking off.

  • gtV

    “Res Ipsa Loquitur!” from Latin loosely translated this matter speaks for itself! This principle applies here along with several corollaries from Murphy’s Law* that the airlines will surely invoke.

    We’ll just have to see if the airlines will adhere to the new passenger “Bill of Rights” regs. Sooner or later, let’s hope the airlines get the message and improve customer relations and service. We travelers pay for good service!!

    (*)–Murphy’s Law=”If something can go wrong it will!”

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