The Department of Transportation is postponing some of the airline passenger protections scheduled to take effect this month after airlines and travel agents said they needed more time to implement the changes.
Now, airlines won’t have to list extra fees until January. Some new rules will go into effect this month for airlines in attempt to make traveling a little more pleasant on passengers. Others you’ll have to wait for. The Department of Transportation has granted airlines an extension to get together the rules to take effect later this month. Here is a list of some of the new regulations that will be implemented:
1.) Passengers bumped from flights will get greater compensation. $650 if the airline can get you there with in 1 to 2 hours of your originally scheduled flight, or up to $1300 if you delay is lengthy.
2.) Foreign flights on a tarmac for longer than 4 hours must deplane.
3.) Airlines must refund any baggage fee for lost luggage and post any change to those fees on their website for three months.
However, as part of the extension, airlines won’t have to post extra fees on website until January. In January, airlines will be banned from raising fees after the purchase and must provide timely notice of delays and cancellations. And they will be required to disclose the full ticket price so you can finally separate fees from taxes.
Some airlines are suing over the changes. Allegiant, Spirit and Southwest have filed suit saying the changes violate their rights.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- Southwest Airlines and other major carriers have rolled back fare increases they imposed in late July. The increases went into effect on July 22nd when the FAA’s taxing authority lapsed amid a Congressional stalemate. The increases were roughly equal to taxes on most routes, so consumer may not have not have noticed the changes, but it wasn’t until August 8th, it wasn’t clear that airlines would rescind the increases once FAA taxes resumed. Southwest led the rollbacks the evening of August 7th, and was joined by Delta and American Airlines early on the 8th.
- The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) and the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) today began operating the first test site for the Known Crewmember program at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Known Crewmember, a new enhanced security-screening program for airline crew members, positively verifies a pilot’s identity and employment status, strengthening aviation security and shortening screening lines for passengers. The TSA is also working toward launching a “trusted traveler” program that will offer reduced security screening for airline passengers who register and agree to release some personal information and undergo a background check. The passenger program will start this fall at two airports, with more sites and airlines phased in over time.
- Lengthy delays for passengers on airport tarmacs are on the increase. According to the latest data from the Transportation Department, fourteen flights sat on tarmacs for more than three hours in June compared with only three in June 2010. It was the second month in a row that the number of three-hour delays reached double-digits since a new Transportation Department rule took effect in April 2010. The rule can lead to fines of up to $27,500 per passenger for tarmac delays that last more than three hours.
With the recent flurry of airline mergers between Delta & Northwest, AirTran & Southwest, and United & Continental, airline industry analysts are now speculating that American Airlines may be the next to merge in order to compete with these mega-carriers. But with who?
According to a Forbes blog post, analysts from Morningstar believe that American Airlines “needs to make a big splash” to remain a player in an increasingly competitive market.
“Once the industry’s largest carrier, [American Airlines] is now the third-largest…and any scale advantage it may have garnered is gone,” the Morningstar analysts write. “Ironically, AMR is at a substantial disadvantage, given that it steered clear of bankruptcy during the recession,” [Basili] Alukos and [Adam] Fleck say, pointing out that American’s labor rate is the industry’s highest on an equivalent basis.”
Given that it lags behind United-Continental and Delta, Morningstar figures American is ripe for consolidation and would make a solid fit for partner JetBlue. The two cooperate on domestic and international flights at JFK and Boston’s Logan Airport, and JetBlue’s lighter cost structure would help American be more competitive while beefing up the combined company’s international business.
Late last month JetBlue CEO Dave Barger said his airline does not need to find a merger partner to remain competitive with rival Southwest. Time will ultimately tell as Southwest’s pending merger with AirTran will certainly enable them to apply some competitive pressure in JetBlue’s key expansion markets like Boston and the Caribbean.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- The tarmac rule imposed earlier this year seems to have had the desired affect — with only one delay exceeding 3 hours in the entire month of August, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Last year, 66 flights sat on runways for at least 3 hours in the month of August, according to the DOT. The department added that the new rule has had no impact on cancellation rates in August, with the rate of 1% unchanged compared to the prior year. The tarmac rule has been broken eight times since it was imposed earlier this year on April 29 through the end of August, according to the DOT. That’s compared to 529 runway delays exceeding three hours, during the same time period in 2009.
- Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic on Sunday completed its first manned free flight of a spaceship intended to eventually take customers on commercial space flights. A seat on Branson’s spaceship will cost $200,000 per person, with refundable deposits starting at $20,000. Thus far, Virgin Galactic has managed to sell 700 seats. While you can’t yet track the price of these flights on Yapta, we don’t expect prices to drop anytime soon.
- Budget Travel published a list of the “Weirdest Travel Gear” that included products like GasBGone, a flatulence filter that comes in a pillow or an undergarment form.
The Wall Street Journal reports that airfares to and from Europe may rise in the wake of the volcanic-ash disruption that caused European airports to shut down earlier this month, adding steam to already rising fares this year.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research, a United Kingdom-based economics consultancy, said in a report released Monday that airfares in Europe are likely to rise 5.2% in 2010 from the year earlier due to rising oil prices and airlines trying to mitigate the financial harm of the volcanic crisis.
According to the report, the average ticket in 2010 on British Airways between London and New York would jump to $831, an increase of approximately $41 compared to today’s average price.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- New rules for airlines went into effect today that are designed to prevent long waits on the tarmac without food and water. By now everyone has heard the horror stories from passengers that have had to sit on the runway for up to 11 hours without the basic necessities. The airlines face stiff fines if they leave passengers sitting on the tarmac for more than 3 hours. We’ll see how the new rules improve the situation – or if they simply cause more flights to be canceled.
- Reuters reports that LaGuardia Airport, one of the busiest airports in the United States, serving about 26 million passengers a year, is so outdated that it should be completely demolished and rebuilt.
- The New York Times reported today that the European Union will lift its ban on liquids in air passengers’ hand luggage by 2013 as part of a plan to harmonize and simplify airport security screening procedures that have been a source of confusion and delay for millions of travelers. According to the E.U. Transport Commission,the new system will require European airports to install new technology at checkpoints capable of detecting liquid explosives. Hopefully the U.S. is not far behind.