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Travel Tip: How Rules Could Change After Recent Airline Incidents

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Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons User Douglas P. Perkins

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons User Douglas P. Perkins

Powerful cell phone videos of passenger mistreatment by airlines go viral.

The result?

Bipartisan angry reactions by members of Congress—and hearings on passenger rights in Washington, D.C.

So does that mean our elected representatives will actually enact legislation that will protect airline passengers?

If history is any indication, I wouldn’t count on it.

Despite numerous attempts over more than two decades to introduce legislation to protect airline passengers and give them a real bill of rights, none of that legislation has ever left congressional committees.

They each seem to die a slow death.

However, there may be hope for passenger protections from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

It comes in the form of rule making.

The original denied boarding rules didn’t come from Congress, but from the DOT.

The same goes for the famous tarmac delay rules, which levied serious fines against airlines if they didn’t return you to your gate within three hours of pushing back from that gate in the event of a long delay.

So there’s a good chance for some new overbooking and boarding rules from the DOT within the next six months.

Those could clearly specify the consequences of overbooking to the airlines as well as your specific rights in these situations.

More than likely, the new rules will increase the dollar amounts—and the dollar limits—of what can be offered to passengers to give up their seats on overbooked flights.

They could also include protections for passengers who don’t want to give up their seats.

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