Most of the enhanced airline consumer protections announced last April, like limiting tarmac delays and reimbursing bag fees, will go into effect on 23 Aug.

Most of the enhanced airline consumer protections announced last April by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) will go into effect tomorrow, 23 August.

These protections include limiting tarmac delays for international flights and non-US carriers operating in the United States, refunding checked bag fees when luggage is lost, disclosing all potential fees and greater compensation for involuntarily bumped passengers. I reported on the details of these protections in April.

However, due to strong lobbying on the part of airlines, implementation of some of those rules has been postponed to 24, January 2012. The delayed rules are:

  • All airlines must offer passengers a flight status update service (ie, email or text) to which they can subscribe. They must also notify passengers within 30 minutes of becoming aware of a situation that will delay, divert or cancel a flight.
  • Airlines will have to hold all reservations for at least 24 hours at the quoted fare, without payment. If a payment is made at the time of reservation, it must be refunded if a passenger cancels the purchase within 24 hours. (Many airlines already do this; the new rules force all of them to do so, uniformly.)
  • When airlines quote, display or advertise fares, they must always include all government taxes and fees, which in some cases can make up as much as half of the total price of a ticket. (This would make comparing apples to apples much easier when fare shopping.)

Chris McGinnis is the business travel columnist for BBC Travel