Passenger Rights Take Off With New DOT Proposal

by  Molly Fergus | Jun 2, 2010
Southwest Airlines plane
Southwest Airlines plane / Boarding1Now/iStock

Barely a month after the Department of Transportation slammed Southwest with $200,000 in fines for kicking passengers off of flights without enough compensation, the government is cracking the whip yet again with a proposal that requires airlines to pony up more cash to flyers left behind.

Until now, airlines only had to pay a bumped flyer $400 if the rerouted flight landed within two hours of the original domestic itinerary or four hours of international schedules ($800 for longer delays). With this new rule (proposed today), the limits would spike to $650 and $1,300, respectively.

The same proposal ushers in a handful of new protections for flyers, including the right to cancel reservations within 24 hours without a fee, fully disclosed baggage fees plus refunds and reimbursements for late luggage (amen!), fair price advertising, and prompt notices for flight changes.

Although these regulations definitely won’t cut all the headaches out of air travel (we still have to go through security barefoot, after all), the ruling would be a huge win for travelers, as just this year airlines have added unheard-of fees and experts expect a spike in overbooked  flights. Think the move still isn’t enough? Sound off at, where the proposal is now open for comments from the public. In the meantime, dodge unexpected charges with our Top 10 Ways to Avoid Airline Fees.

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