May 23, 2024 7:18 am
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National News

With new rules, consumers’ wallets won’t be grounded by airline cancellations

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Mike Moen, Producer

Air travelers could face fewer obstacles in securing a refund if their flight is canceled or changed under new federal rules announced Wednesday.

The moves are being praised by watchdog groups. The Department of Transportation said airlines are now required to promptly provide passengers with automatic cash refunds when they are owed one.

Teresa Murray, consumer watchdog director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said some carriers have not adhered to standards, leaving passengers in a bind.

“They would drag their feet, and they would say, ‘Well, you bought your ticket from a ticket agent, so we don’t know where your money is. Or, here, have a voucher,'” Murray explained.

Amid higher complaint volumes, companies will be forced to act quickly. The new rules, which are being phased in, provide clearer definitions for travel disruptions, including delays of at least three hours on a domestic flight and six hours on international flights. A key industry group responded to the announcement by touting transparency efforts among carriers.

Murray acknowledged most people are not frequent flyers, and it is hard for them to keep up on all the least practices and policies among airlines.

“The average person only flies once every 18 months,” Murray pointed out. “This will just bring transparency to that process and it kind of evens the playing field.”

Murray added it could come in handy for Midwestern customers when a winter storm wreaks havoc on air travel. The new rules also require refunds for baggage fees when a piece of luggage is delayed by 12 hours or more for domestic flights. And there must be upfront disclosure on fees for first and second checked bags and carry-on bags.

This story is republished from Public News Service under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.