HolidayBuyer's Guide

Airlines protest rules calling for more transparency, refunds

Want a refund when your baggage is delayed? Airlines and the Department of Transportation fight over that and several new proposed regulations.

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Airlines for America, a trade organization that represents several large Airlines such as United, American, and Southwest, is arguing that several new regulations proposed by the US Department of Transportation could hurt customers more than they help them.

The regulations are all aimed at transparency and seem consumer friendly. In the near term, they state that online ticket agents can't bias results from certain airlines, and they'll also require airlines to report on-time performance, not just for its own flights, but for all flights it contracts.

The DOT is also exploring regulations that include forcing airlines to refund baggage fees if the bags are substantially delayed and forcing airlines to disclose all costs associated with a ticket, such as baggage fees, seat assignment fees, as well as change and cancellation fees, according to Air Transportation World. The DOT still needs to figure out what exactly "substantial" means when it comes to that first rule.

While all of these rules, particularly refunding baggage fees, sound good to me, Airlines for America (A4A) cautioned on Tuesday that increasing regulation could drive the cost of tickets up, and the transparency rules would only help third party ticket agents, not the airlines and not consumers. A4A said ticket prices in general have fallen both of the last two years.

I'm not sure which part of disclosing delays and fees would cause the prices to hike, but I'm sure they'll be lots more debate between A4A and the DOT about every aspect of the regulations before they first come to fruition in a couple of months.

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