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.


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