Airlines Lose Challenge of New Passenger Rules

Travelers who highly value cheap travel options, including cheap airplane tickets and cheap vacation packages, sometimes feel like they are treated little better than cattle by the airlines. The Department of Transportation (DOT) wants to improve traveler treatment by imposing a series of new rules to protect passengers rights.

Allegiant, Southwest and Spirit challenged DOTs new consumer right rules in federal court and lost when the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. denied their motion for a stay of some of the new rules.

The court unanimously ruled, without further explanation, that the airlines have not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay. Those requirements include proving that the airlines will suffer immediate and irreparable harm without a stay. Such a claim is weak given that the DOT had already postponed the implementation date of all of the challenged rules until January 24th.

Today airlines are allowed to advertise base fares, without including certain taxes and fees, so long as those charges are properly displayed nearby. DOTs new rule requires advertised and all displayed prices to include all taxes and fees, regardless of whether they are imposed by governments, airlines, or intermediaries.

The airlines also wanted a stay of the following new rules:

Allow travelers to hold a reservation for up to 24 hours without payment, or to make airlines issues cash refunds for cancellations made within 24 hours of payment.

Make eticket confirmations spell out airline baggage allowances and fees.

Prohibit post purchase increases in airline ticket prices or in any part of an air inclusive package.

Require airlines and all other travel providers inform customers who make a deposit about the potential for a rise in price between the time of the initial deposit and the due date of final payment. Airlines and other travel providers will not be able to pass on any price increase unless they first receive the travelers written consent.

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