The U.S. Transportation Department ( ) will delay the implementation of some of its new passenger rights rules until early next year, but the delay will not be as long as many airlines requested, nor will it include indefinite postponement of some of the rules pending the outcome of a legal challenge, as requested by some airlines.
Most of the new requirements were scheduled to take effect Aug. 23. The full-fare advertising change, which requires carriers to include government taxes and fees in the advertised price, was scheduled to take effect Oct. 24.
The delay applies to the rules regarding full-fare advertising, more proactive baggage fee disclosure, baggage fee consistency for a passenger’s entire itinerary, mandatory notifications to passengers of flight status changes and a requirement to let customers hold a reservation without payment for 24 hours.
“In extending the effective date for these requirements, the department is balancing the benefit of having these protections in place for consumers as soon as practical with the capability of airlines to comply with the additional requirements being imposed upon them in a reasonable time frame,” the DOT said in the decision it issued July 21. “We believe the Jan. 24, 2012, date will provide the airlines adequate time to comply.”
U.S. airlines had asked the DOT to delay implementation of some of the rules for six months because of the time they said was needed for information technology upgrades, employee training and airline coordination.sought a six-month delay for all of the new rules as they applied to foreign carriers.
Many rules remain on track to take effect Aug. 23. That includes an expansion of the existing tarmac delay rule and a substantial increase in denied boarding compensation.
The tarmac delay rule, which requires airlines to give passengers the option to get off a plane that has been stuck on the ground for three hours, currently applies only to U.S. carrier domestic flights at large- and medium-sized hub airports. The new rule expands its application to all airports, and adds a four-hour limit for international flights by U.S. and foreign carriers at U.S. airports.