U.S. to move faster to address unfair airline consumer practices -sources By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An airplane takes off from the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, U.S., March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Transportation Department (USDOT) will announce on Monday that it is issuing a new rule to make it easier for regulators to move faster to protect airline customers from unfair and deceptive practices, sources told Reuters.

The new regulation will simplify and speed hearing procedures the department uses when issuing protection rules to prohibit unfair or deceptive practices by airlines and ticket agents. The department plans future rules on airline ticket refunds and transparency of airline baggage and other fees. The department also soon will issue guidance on the definitions of “unfair” and “deceptive” for purposes of airline customer protection, the sources said.

Under the new rules, the department will require airlines or others seeking hearings on proposed government regulations on unfair aviation practices to move faster, make clear hearings will only be granted if in the public interest and eliminate a requirement that hearing officers issue detailed reports.

Airlines for America, an airline trade group, did not immediately comment.

USDOT said last year it intended to issue a separate proposed rule to require upfront disclosure of baggage fees, change fees and cancellation fees. Under existing U.S. rules, passengers are entitled to a fee refund if bags are lost, but not when delayed.

USDOT last year proposed new rules to require passenger airlines to refund fees for bags that are significantly delayed and refunds for services like onboard Wi-Fi that do not work.

In September the Biden administration said it would award 16 slots for flights at Newark International Airport in New Jersey to a yet-to-be-determined low-cost carrier and said it could take action to boost competition at other major airports.

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