New DOT rules should help travelers determine the true cost of their journeys

New DOT rules should help travelers determine the true cost of their journeys

After the U.S. Department of Transportation issued new rules regarding airline ticket refunds and disclosure of “junk charges,” airlines and travel agencies are working on the best ways to comply moving forward.

The new rules affect air travel purchases before and after a flight, so carriers and ticket sellers must change the way tickets are offered and sold.

There is a 60-day window between the time the rules are entered into the Federal Register (about May 1) and the time they take effect (about July 1). Meanwhile, ticket sellers and airlines will work on their websites to comply with the new rules.

[The new U.S. airline rules on fees and refunds are the talk of the travel world. Here’s what to know.]

Consumer advocates say the new rules are a step in the right direction. But it doesn’t stack up well compared to EU rules on airline delays and cancellations.

For example, if you are traveling to or from or Inside Europe and your flight is delayed More than three hours, you may be entitled to compensation between €250 and €600. There are exceptions to this policy, including air traffic management, weather and security risks.

In addition to flight delays, European regulations are specific when it comes to cancellations, overbookings and lost or damaged baggage.

The Department for Transport’s new rules are a response to the march towards ‘drip pricing’ by travel providers, where there is A new charge at every turn. Airlines are not the only group that has incurred these fees. Car rental companies and hotels have also jumped on the bandwagon, generating billions of dollars in so-called “additional revenue” for the industry.

The Department of Transport’s new rules are designed for the few travelers who book their own tickets online. Travel agents routinely issue refunds for flight cancellations. “I’ve never been turned down by an airline,” said Nate Fallier of the Alaska Travel Bureau. “Handling refunds and changes is part of our service,” he said. Travel agents usually charge between $35 and $50 to issue a ticket.

However, the new rules will not only focus on the trip components that are covered such as baggage delay and flight cancellation. Going forward, DOT’s attention will highlight practices that are not yet covered – but should be.

For example, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has called on airlines to charge families with young children extra fees to sit together. Many airlines have already adjusted their policies to accommodate families traveling together without additional fees. But for the rest of the transport companies, the Ministry of Transport plans to introduce new rules restricting this policy. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transport publishes Airlines customer service control panel To help travelers.

One questionable method that airlines use to market tickets is to promote one-way tickets. For example, Alaska Airlines is marketing one-way tickets from Anchorage to Paine Field for $119 one way between May 24 and June 14. That’s a great price, especially now that Alaska is reintroducing nonstop flights.

Here’s the problem: There are only two days when a similar northbound flight is available for $121: May 25 and 26. On most days, a return flight costs much more: $231 one way.

Between Anchorage and Denver, both Alaska Airlines and United Airlines offer nonstop flights. Between May 25 and June 12, both airlines are offering a one-way fare of $167 for a southbound flight.

Woe to the traveler who fails to seize the one day a northbound flight is available at similar prices (May 27). Prices for most other available dates range north of $341 to $399 one way.

If airlines are marketing one-way flights to a destination, should travelers expect a round-trip ticket for roughly twice that amount? For more than just a few days? I think so.

Checked baggage fees continue to be a headache for travellers. Alaska Airlines noticed this while developing its Club 49 plan for Alaska residents. For flights to and from Alaska, members receive two free checked bags. Delta copied the plan and offered two free checked bags to SkyMiles members.

Outside of their Alaska flights, both Alaska Airlines and Delta charge $35 for the first checked bag. American Airlines and United charge $40. It is not surprising that travelers go to great lengths to carry their bags on the plane rather than pay the fee. Airlines appear to have created their own carry-on baggage crisis in their quest for more additional revenue.

Passengers are increasingly able to connect to the Internet on board, in addition to a growing range of in-flight entertainment. But pricing often doesn’t reveal the true cost to travelers. Alaska Air is equipping more of its fleet with high-speed, satellite-based Wi-Fi at $8 per flight. If you’re flying on one of the carrier’s many nonstop flights to Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Chicago, or New York, that’s great. But if you change planes in Seattle or Portland en route, the cost is $16.

Condor Air is operating new aircraft to Anchorage from Frankfurt this year, an Airbus 330-900neo. The plane is equipped with high-speed Wi-Fi all the way over the North Pole. But you have to dig deeper to find out how much they charge: 35 euros each way.

This is the same cost as American transatlantic flights and Singapore Airlines flights from the West Coast to Singapore. On these longer trips, free movies are even better value!

Delta offers free in-flight Wi-Fi to SkyMiles members.

There are many other points in your trip where fees or spending choices are surprising or shocking. Last month I had lunch at the New Orleans airport. We had two sandwiches, two orders of fries, and two beers. The cost, before tip, was $91.08. Other readers wrote to me about bottled water at the Las Vegas airport for more than $5 per bottle. These issues are not covered by the Department of Transport. But some airports, like Portland Airport, have “Street pricing“Promised no airport premium.

On the island of Kauai at the Grand Hyatt, prices are very high ($850 per night). But on top of that, there is a resort fee of $55 per day. A mid-week car rental in Seattle next month will cost at least $105, including all fees.

Travel is expensive and still more expensive. Part of this price comes out of your budget. But when travel companies make it difficult to compare, plan your trip, and assess the true cost, it represents an additional cost in time and aggravation. This is what the Department of Transport’s latest rules aim to address, in addition to holding companies accountable for their promises.

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