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Air Consumer

A little homework makes Spring Break travel smoother, safer

With loads of snow still on the ground across the country, it might seem out of place to let people know that--for much of the nation--this weekend brings a return to Daylight Savings Time. But it's true; early Sunday morning--2:00 a.m.--on March 9, we spring forward by setting our clocks an hour ahead.

Generally, that means more sunlight later in the day. But it also means an hour less sleep that first night, and--at least for a short time--it means darker mornings. With safety as our first priority here at DOT, we want to remind you to stay particularly alert behind the wheel while your body adjusts to the time change.

Infographic on Drowsy Driving

News Digest (DOT 101-13)

Consumers Cautioned on Air Tours to College Bowl Games. The U.S. Department of Transportation today reminded air travelers going to this season’s college football bowl games that a company marketing an air tour package that includes game tickets must have the tickets in hand or have a written contract for the tickets before advertising the tour. If a travel agent or other tour representative states that a game ticket is included, the consumer should require at the time of purchase that the game ticket be presented or a written confirmation for the ticket be provided.

As holiday travel heats up, air consumer complaints down

Historic consumer rules keep air travelers protected

The holiday travel season is upon us, and it's an exciting time of year for visiting loved ones, hitting the slopes, or escaping the cold.  Wherever you and your family are heading, we at DOT want your travel to be as stress-free as possible.

That’s why we’re pleased to report that airline consumer complaints filed with our Aviation Consumer Protection Division between January and September 2013 were down 14.1 percent from the first nine months of 2012. In addition, complaints filed in September 2013 were down 6.8 percent from September 2012.

Photo of travelers moving through airport

New DOT rules to make flying easier for passengers with disabilities

At DOT, we believe that all airline passengers deserve to be treated fairly when they fly.  And we’ve been hard at work introducing consumer protections to ensure equal access to hassle-free transportation for all air travelers.

Today as part of that ongoing effort, we announced a new rule requiring airline websites and automated airport kiosks to be accessible to passengers with disabilities.

Photo of man in a wheelchair using an accessible airport ticketing kiosk

FAA allows airlines to expand use of personal electronic devices

The Federal Aviation Administration is allowing airlines to expand passengers' use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight--yes, that means while your aircraft is taxiing, taking off, and landing.

Now, expanded use will not happen overnight. But eventually, passengers will be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions.

Photo of a middle aged man playing Angry Birds on his laptop aboard an airplane

Qantas Fined for Failing to Disclose Baggage Fees

DOT 112-12

Qantas Fined for Failing to Disclose Baggage Fees

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today assessed a civil penalty of $100,000 against Qantas, an Australian air carrier, for violating the Department’s new rule requiring carriers and ticket agents to inform consumers that they may have to pay baggage fees, and directed Qantas to cease and desist from further violations.

Disclosure of charges for checked baggage

This notice is intended to give guidance to air carriers and foreign air carriers on disclosure of carrier baggage policies and associated fees in connection with checked baggage. The general industry practice until recently has been to allow passengers two free checked bags, generally of up to 50 or 70 pounds each. Several air carriers have recently adopted policies of charging passengers an amount, in addition to the fare already paid, for any checked baggage or for more than one checked bag. Some of these policies imposing charges for checking a second bag add $25 to the cost of a passenger’s trip while others may add far greater amounts for checking a single bag, either because it is overweight or because the carrier has different fares based on whether a passenger checks bags and the number he or she checks. A number of others have announced plans to implement similar policies.

Baggage liability on international codeshare trips

This notice is intended to give guidance to U.S. and foreign air carriers on two tariff matters: first, tariffs relating to liability for lost, stolen, delayed or damaged baggage carried on international itineraries; and second, tariffs that appear to assign responsibility, in code-share service, to the operating carrier rather than the selling carrier (i.e., the carrier shown on the ticket).

Response to petition to delay the effective date of 14 CFR 399.85(c) and 399.87

By this order, we are denying the petition of the Air Transport Association (now Airlines for America), the International Air Transport Association, the Regional Airline Association, the Air Carrier Association of America, and the Association of European Airlines (AEA) (collectively Associations) to delay the effectiveness of 14 CFR 399.85(c) and 399.87 for the reasons discussed below but also announcing that the Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings has decided, for a short period of time, to apply its enforcement discretion in monitoring compliance with these provisions.