Airlines must comply with new consumer regulations on July 24
The Transportation Department on Thursday refused to give the airline industry any more time to comply with two provisions of its new consumer regulations pertaining to the disclosure of baggage allowances and fees.
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The DOT adopted specific disclosure requirements in 2011 but delayed the effective date once, and followed with a six-month enforcement moratorium that ends July 24.
A broad coalition of U.S. and international airlines has petitioned for still more time, citing that the complexity of reprogramming their systems and revising their procedures.
At issue are two related provisions. One would require airlines to disclose, in online receipts and on e-ticket confirmations, the specific fees and allowances that apply to carry-on bags and the first and second checked bags.
The disclosure has to be specific to the itinerary and cannot be a standard list of fees and allowances that carriers post on their websites.
The second rule requires carriers to apply the same allowances and fees to all legs of any multi-segment itinerary to, from or within the U.S., including codeshares and multi-carrier connecting itineraries.
Airlines claimed in a petition last month that they are largely in compliance, but need more time to insure that the correct information can be transmitted between carrier systems.
Frontier, for example, said it has no codeshare, interline or alliance relationships with larger airlines, and may not know the correct information for other carriers that might be on the same itinerary until an automated industry system is in place.
The DOT, however, declined to extend the effective date of the rules or to formally extend its enforcement moratorium, saying “consumers will continue to be confused” until airlines achieve complete compliance.
The DOT said it has received complaints from consumers and may begin acting on them, but it reminded airlines that it has “considerable discretion” in enforcement matters and will assess each situation on a case-by-case basis.