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Despite the hefty price of flying to your destination these days, airline passengers will soon see some relief from other hassles. Beginning this Tuesday the Transportation Department will institute new federal rules to protect airline passengers from long tarmac waits for international passengers, as well as several other changes to make airline travel safer and easier.

In addition to the change for long tarmac waits, passengers will also see greater compensation for those bumped from flights. Airlines will also be required to disclose any extra airline fees. Overall passengers will benefit in the following ways:

  • The Transportation Department will fine international airlines up to $27,500 per passenger for flights that sit longer than four hours without taking off on the tarmac.
  • Compensation will raise to double the price of an airline ticket (up to $650) if a passenger is bumped from an oversold flight. Additionally, airlines would have to pay four times the cost of an airline ticket (up to $1300) for even longer delays for passengers bumped from oversold flights.
  • Airlines will have to prominently disclose any additional fees on their website including luggage fees, meal costs, and reservation cancellations.

Consumer advocates praise the new rules, but airlines argue that the new federal regulations will hinder airline travel. Originally, the Transporation Department wanted to include several more regulations, but agreed to postpone the additional rules after airlines protested that they would need more time to adapt. However, on January 24, 2012 airlines will also have to follow these additional rules:

  • Promptly notify passengers at the boarding gate, on the airline website, and via their phone reservation systems if a flight will be more than 30 minutes late or if a flight is cancelled.
  • Allow customers to cancel a reservation without payment for at least 24 hours if they’re made at least a week before the departure date.
  • Include all government taxes and fees in advertised prices.
  • Not raise the fees after a ticket has already been purchased unless its a result of government fees and the flier agrees to an increase.

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