Airline Passenger's Bill of Rights

For a very long time now air passengers have suffered at the hands of the Airline industry. The passengers are always left to tend to themselves at airports whether it is a delay due mechanical failure or pilot dozing off or waiting at the tarmac to take off or airline cancelling the flight due to low ticket sale. We always find ourselves at the mercy of these dictators.

Looks like the US government has finally taken notice. Don't get too excited, it doesn't change much. This is a small step, although small, in the right direction.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released a beefed up version of the flyer's rights bill on the 20th this week, requiring airlines to treat you a little better. These new rights don't necessarily help you out too much if you're not aware of them, however. So here's a sneak peek at what's changed.

According to the bill, airlines will be required to reimburse you when they lose your baggage or you're bumped from a flight. The compensation for a bumped flight is quite a bit, actually, as airlines will be required to provide you with twice the price of your ticket (up to $800) if you're delayed for two hours or less. If you're delayed longer, you can receive up to $1,300.

Currently, if you're on a domestic flight, your plane cannot sit on the tarmac for more than three hours without letting you off. Now international flights are included in this regulation, but they have a maximum time limit of four hours. The planes are also required to provide you with water and access to the restrooms at all times—which is good, because one facilitates the other.

Airlines will also now be required to disclose all fees on their web sites so you know how much it'll cost you to check a bag, cancel your ticket, and many of the other fun fees they've come up with over the past few years. Additionally, cancellation fees will be prohibited for the first 24 hours after booking.

If you find yourself stuck on the tarmac for hours without water, without your baggage and compensation for the inconvenience, or any of these other issues, speak up. You've got the DOT behind you now. It's worth mentioning that this new bill exists largely thanks to the efforts of the Flyer's Rights organization, which can also be of help if you find yourself in a bind. They have a hotline you can call for assistance if an airline is treating you unfairly.

These new regulations go into effect on August 23rd, 2011, so they're not immediate, but later this year you'll be quite a bit better off when flying.

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