Posted September 26, 2022
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking - Enhancing Transparency of Airline Ancillary Service Fees. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is proposing a rule which would significantly strengthen protections for consumers by ensuring any fees charged to seat a young child with an accompanying adult, change or cancel a flight, or travel with a first checked bag, a second checked bag, or a carry-on bag would be disclosed whenever fare and schedule information is provided for flights to, within, and from the United States. These fees would be required to be displayed as passenger-specific or itinerary-specific based on the consumer’s choice. The proposal would also require airlines and ticket agents to enable consumers traveling with young children to purchase adjacent seats with their airline tickets at all points of sale. Airlines that do not charge a fee for adjacent seating to those traveling with a young child would not be required to disclose or make transactable adjacent seating fees. The Department further proposes to require that carriers provide useable, current, and accurate information to ticket agents regarding baggage fees, change fees, cancellation fees, and adjacent seating fees for families traveling with young children, if any, to ticket agents that sell or display the carrier’s fare and schedule information. The Department does not dictate the method that carriers would use to share fee information with ticket agents.
Comments on the NPRM must be received within 60 days of the date it is published in the Federal Register. Comments can be filed on www.regulations.gov, docket number DOT-OST-2022-0109.
Posted August 26, 2022
Guidance Regarding Interpretation of Unfair and Deceptive Practices. The Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP), a unit within the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is issuing this guidance to inform the public and regulated entities about DOT’s interpretation of the terms unfair, deceptive, and practices as it relates to its statutory authority to prohibit unfair or deceptive practices. The Department is taking this action to better define the terms unfair and deceptive in response to an Executive order issued by President Biden on July 9, 2021, on promoting competition in the American economy.
Posted August 3, 2022
Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee - Notice of Public Meeting. The U.S. Department of Transportation announces a public meeting of the Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (ACPAC), to be held virtually to discuss the Department’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Airline Ticket Refunds and Consumer Protections. The virtual meeting will be held on Monday, August 22, 2022, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time. Registration information is provided in the Notice. The Notice also provides information on how interested parties can request an opportunity to make remarks at the meeting.
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking - Airline Ticket Refunds and Consumer Protections. The U.S. Department of Transportation (Department) is proposing to codify its longstanding interpretation that it is an unfair business practice for a U.S. air carrier, a foreign air carrier, or a ticket agent to refuse to provide requested refunds to consumers when a carrier has cancelled or made a significant change to a scheduled flight to, from, or within the United States, and consumers found the alternative transportation offered by the carrier or the ticket agent to be unacceptable. The Department is also proposing to require that U.S. and foreign air carriers and ticket agents provide non-expiring travel vouchers or credits to consumers holding non-refundable tickets for scheduled flights to, from, or within the United States who are unable to travel as scheduled in certain circumstances related to a serious communicable disease. Furthermore, the Department is proposing to require U.S. and foreign air carriers and ticket agents provide refunds, in lieu of non-expiring travel vouchers or credits, if the carrier or ticket agent received significant financial assistance from the government as a result of a public health emergency. The NPRM proposes to allow carriers and ticket agents to require consumers provide evidence to support their assertion of entitlement to a travel voucher, credit, or refund.
Comments on the NPRM must be received within 90 days of the date it is published in the Federal Register. Comments can be filed on www.regulations.gov, docket number DOT-OST-2022-0089.
Posted July 8, 2022
Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights. The U.S. Department of Transportation worked with members of the Air Carrier Access Act Advisory Committee, which includes voices from the disability community and industry stakeholders, to create the Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights describes the fundamental rights of air travelers with disabilities under the Air Carrier Access Act and its implementing regulation. This easy-to-use summary will empower travelers to understand their rights and help the travel industry uphold those rights.
Notice Encouraging U.S. Airlines to Have Policies that Enable Children To Be Seated Adjacent to an Accompanying Adult to the Maximum Extent Practicable and at No Additional Cost. The Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP) has issued a notice urging U.S. airlines to do everything in their power to ensure that children who are age 13 or younger are seated next to an accompanying adult with no additional charge. Although the Department receives a low number of complaints from consumers about family seating, there continue to be complaints of instances where young children, including a child as young as 11 months, are not seated next to an accompanying adult. In four months from the date of this Notice, OACP plans to initiate a review of airline policies and consumer complaints filed with the Department. If airlines’ seating policies and practices are barriers to a child sitting next to an adult family member or other accompanying adult family member, the Department will consider additional action consistent with its authorities.
Posted May 26, 2022
Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee - Notice of Public Meeting. The U.S. Department of Transportation announces that the public meeting of the Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (ACPAC) which was originally scheduled to be held on March 21 and 22, 2022 is rescheduled to June 28 and 29, 2022. In addition, one of the topics planned for discussion at the rescheduled meeting has changed from Airline Ticket Refunds to Airline Ancillary Service Fees.
Posted March 18, 2022
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking - Accessible Lavatories on Single-Aisle Aircraft: Part 2. DOT has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to require airlines to ensure that at least one lavatory on new single-aisle aircraft with 125 or more passenger seats is large enough to permit a passenger with a disability (with the help of an assistant, if necessary) to approach, enter, and maneuver within the aircraft lavatory, as necessary, to use all lavatory facilities and leave by means of the aircraft’s on-board wheelchair.
In 2020, DOT issued an NPRM titled “Accessible Lavatories on Single-Aisle Aircraft: Part 1” (“Part 1 NPRM”). In the Part 1 NPRM, DOT proposed a number of accessibility improvements that did not involve expanding the size of the lavatory itself, including improvements to lavatory interiors (accessible handles, faucets, etc.), training and information requirements, and improvements to the design of the aircraft’s on-board wheelchair.
The NPRM announced today is “Accessible Lavatories on Single-Aisle Aircraft: Part 2” (“Part 2 NPRM”).
Comments to the Part 2 NPRM must be received within 60 days of the date the notice being published in the Federal Register. Comments can be filed on www.regulations.gov, docket number DOT-OST-2021-0137.
Posted March 10, 2022
Public Meeting on Air Travel by Persons Who Use Wheelchairs. The U.S. Department of Transportation (Department) hosted a virtual public meeting regarding air travel by persons who use wheelchairs on Thursday, March 24, 2022. Further information on the meeting, including links to the recordings, can be found here.
Posted March 10, 2022
On November 11, 2021, the Department issued a Federal Register notice announcing two meetings of the ACPAC, the first to be held on December 2, 2021 and the second to be held on March 21 and 22, 2022. The ACPAC met on December 2, 2021 as planned and discussed two topics, one of which was Airline Ticket Refunds. The Department planned to continue discussion of the Airline Ticket Refunds topic at the March 21 and 22, 2022 meeting concurrently with the projected date of the public comment period for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Airline Ticket Refund and Consumer Protections (RIN 2105-AF04). Taking into account delays associated with the rulemaking process and the availability of the ACPAC members, the meeting originally scheduled for March 21 and 22, 2022 is being postponed. A Federal Register notice announcing the new date for the ACPAC meeting will be issued soon.
Posted January 24, 2022
DOT Announces Rule to Help Department Move More Swiftly to Protect Aviation Consumers from Unfair and Deceptive Practices. The U.S. Department of Transportation (Department) today announced a final rule that will help it move more swiftly to protect aviation consumers from unfair and deceptive practices. The rule will simplify and speed up the hearing procedures that the Department uses when it issues aviation consumer protection rulemakings to prohibit unfair or deceptive practices by airlines and ticket agents. The Department’s upcoming consumer protection rulemakings on airline ticket refunds and transparency of airline ancillary fees will also be based on the authority to prevent unfair and deceptive practices. Currently, if the Department proposes a rulemaking that would protect aviation consumers from an unfair or deceptive practice by an airline or ticket agent, interested parties have the right to ask for a hearing to examine whether the Department’s views are based on a proper economic or scientific foundation. The rule announced today will still provide all interested parties with an opportunity to be heard while providing the Department with greater flexibility to help prevent aviation consumer protection rulemakings from being delayed. The final rule will enable the Department to speed up the rulemaking process and protect consumers by providing the agency with greater flexibility to appoint appropriate hearing officers, eliminating the requirement for the officer to issue a detailed report, and providing more options for the officer on when and how testimony is presented at the hearing. The final rule also clarifies that hearings will only be granted if they are in the public interest.
Along with these updated procedures, the Department also announced that it intends, in the near future, to issue an interpretive rule, also known as guidance, on the definitions of “unfair” and “deceptive” for purposes of aviation consumer protection. The interpretive rule will further explain the meanings of the terms as defined in the regulation.
Posted December 15, 2021
Joint Meeting Public Notice. On December 16, 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Architectural Transportation Barriers and Compliance Board (Access Board) are jointly hosting a public meeting, to be held virtually, on a DOT Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) issued on January 2, 2020 and on Access Board’s proposed advisory guidelines for aircraft onboard wheelchairs issued on August 20, 2019. The NPRM proposed specific measures for improving accessibility of lavatories on single-aisle aircraft for passengers with disabilities. The public meeting will focus on one aspect of this NPRM – improvements to the aircraft’s onboard wheelchair (OBW). The meeting will also serve as a means for the Access Board to gather additional information on onboard wheelchair loads and onboard wheelchair casters before finalizing its advisory guidelines for aircraft onboard wheelchairs, which potentially could be a means of complying with OBW performance standards established by the Department.
Posted November 23, 2021
DOT Secures Record $4.5 Million Agreement with Air Canada to Settle Refund Case Involving Thousands of Consumers. Today, the DOT Office of Hearings approved the Settlement Agreement filed by the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP) and Air Canada. The settlement resolves OACP’s action against the carrier for its extreme delays in providing refunds to thousands of consumers for flights to or from the United States that the carrier canceled or significantly changed. The agreement marks the highest amount OACP has ever assessed against an airline. In addition to the $4.5 million settlement, Air Canada would agree going forward to refund airfare to passengers who purchase nonrefundable tickets to or from the United States whose flights are cancelled or significantly changed by the carrier. Of the $4.5 million assessed, $2.5 million would be credited to Air Canada for refunding passengers who purchased a nonrefundable ticket for a flight to or from the United States that the passenger ultimately decided not to take. The remaining $2 million would be paid to the U.S. Treasury. The settlement agreement and other related materials can be found at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2021-0073.
Posted November 17, 2021
Public Meetings of the Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee. The Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (ACPAC) will hold public meetings on December 2, 2021 and March 21-22, 2022.
- December 2, 2021 Meeting: The first meeting will be held virtually from 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. ET. The ACPAC will discuss two topics: (1) Airline Ticket Refunds and (2) Information for Consumers Adversely Affected by Airline Delays or Cancellations. To register and attend this virtual meeting, please click this link: Webinar Registration.
- March 21-22, 2022 Meeting: The second meeting is tentatively planned to be held in-person at the DOT headquarters building in Washington, D.C. from 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. ET. Attendance is open to the public, up to the room's capacity of 100 attendees. The ACPAC will discuss two topics: (1) Airline Ticket Refunds (continued from the first meeting) and (2) Enhancing Consumer Access to Airline Flight Information. To register for the second in-person meeting, please contact the Department by email at ACPAC@dot.gov.
Posted September 21, 2021
Clarification of Departmental Position on American Airlines – JetBlue Airways Northeast Alliance Joint Venture. By this notice, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) clarifies its position on the American Airlines (American) and JetBlue Airways (JetBlue) Northeast Alliance (NEA) joint venture agreements and the January 10, 2021 agreement between and among DOT, JetBlue, and American (DOT Agreement) terminating the Department’s review of the NEA, following the September 21, 2021 announcement of antitrust litigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The Department will work closely with DOJ should it seek data and documents that will help in the resolution of DOJ’s action. The DOT Agreement remains in effect during the pendency of the DOJ litigation. The Department retains independent statutory authority under 49 U.S.C. 41712 to prohibit unfair methods of competition in air transportation to further its statutory objectives to prevent predatory or anticompetitive practices and to avoid unreasonable industry concentration. However, the Department intends to defer to DOJ, as the primary enforcer of Federal antitrust laws, to resolve the antitrust concerns that DOJ has identified with respect to the NEA. The Department also intends to stay the proceedings in a Spirit Airlines, Inc. (Spirit) formal complaint against the NEA’s implementation while the DOJ action is pending. The Department will assess its next steps, if any, relating to the Spirit complaint and the NEA at the conclusion of the DOJ litigation.
Posted September 9, 2021
DOT Report on Airline Ticket Refunds. This report responds to the requirement in section 5, paragraph(m)(i)(C) of Executive Order 14036 on Promoting Competition in the American Economy to describe the Department’s progress in its investigatory and enforcement activities to address the failure of airlines to provide timely refunds for flights cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department’s efforts are an essential tool to ensure that airlines do not abuse vulnerable travelers during a pandemic. The report provides information regarding the airline ticket refund complaints that the Department received during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department’s authority to investigate such complaints and take enforcement action, the Department’s efforts to ensure airlines comply with their refund obligations, the Department’s pending refund investigations and enforcement actions, and other activities undertaken by the Department to address difficulties passengers encountered in obtaining airline ticket refunds.
Posted July 9, 2021
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) - Refunding Fees for Delayed Checked Bags and Ancillary Services that Are Not Provided. The U.S. Department of Transportation is issuing an NPRM that would require airlines to refund fees for checked bags that are significantly delayed and for ancillary services, such as advance seat selection and wi-fi, when consumers pay for them but they are not provided. Under an existing DOT rule, passengers are entitled to a fee refund if their checked bags are lost. The NPRM proposes to require airlines to also refund checked baggage fees when the baggage is delayed beyond 12 hours for domestic flights and beyond 25 hours for international flights. It also proposes to require airlines to promptly provide a refund to a passenger of any fees paid for ancillary services anytime that the services are not provided by the airline. The Department’s existing rule states that airlines are required to refund fees for services that were not provided due to an oversale situation or flight cancellation.
Posted February 5, 2021
Accommodation by Carriers of Persons with Disabilities Who Are Unable to Wear or Safely Wear Masks While on Commercial Aircraft - Notice of Enforcement Policy. The Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP), a unit within the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is issuing this Notice of Enforcement Policy to remind U.S. and foreign air carriers of their legal obligation to accommodate the needs of passengers with disabilities when developing procedures to implement the Federal mandate on the use of masks to mitigate the public health risks associated with the Coronavirus Disease 2019. OACP will exercise its prosecutorial discretion and provide airlines 45 days from the date of this notice to be in compliance with their obligation under the Air Carrier Access Act and the Department’s implementing regulation in 14 CFR Part 382 to provide reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities who are unable to wear or safely wear masks, so long as the airlines demonstrate that they began the process of compliance as soon as this notice was issued.
Posted January 21, 2021
At the direction of President Biden, the White House Chief of Staff issued a Memorandum for the heads of executive departments and agencies to immediately withdraw any rulemaking documents that have been sent to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) but not published in the Federal Register, subject to certain exceptions, to ensure that the President’s appointees or designees have the opportunity to review new or pending rules. Accordingly, the U.S. Department of Transportation (Department) is withdrawing the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Airfare Advertising and the Final Rule on Tarmac Delay, both of which have been sent to the OFR but have not yet been published in the Federal Register. The Department has also removed these two documents from Regulations.gov in Dockets DOT-OST-2021-0007 and DOT-OST-2019-0144 and the Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection website.
Posted January 15, 2021
Oversales and Domestic Baggage – Final Rule. The U.S. Department of Transportation is issuing a final rule to revise its oversales regulation, 14 CFR Part 250, by clarifying that the maximum amount of Denied Boarding Compensation that a carrier may provide to a passenger denied boarding involuntarily is not limited, and by prohibiting airlines from involuntarily denying boarding to a passenger after the passenger’s boarding pass has been collected or scanned and the passenger has boarded, subject to safety and security exceptions. Further, pursuant to existing regulations, this final rule raises the liability limits for denied boarding compensation that U.S. and foreign air carriers may impose from the current figures of $675 and $1,350 to $775 and $1,550. Also, in accordance with existing regulations, this final rule revises 14 CFR Part 254 to raise the liability limit U.S. carriers may impose for mishandled baggage in domestic air transportation, adjusting the limit of liability from the current amount of $3,500 to $3,800.
U.S. DOT Service Animal Forms. On December 10, 2020, the Department published in the Federal Register a final rule, Traveling by Air with Service Animals. In that final rule, the Department allows airlines to require passengers traveling with service animals to provide airlines with two forms of documentation developed by the Department – a U.S. Department of Transportation Service Animal Air Transportation Form and a U.S. Department of Transportation Service Animal Relief Attestation Form (DOT service animal forms).
Airlines that require the DOT service animal forms must make the forms available to passengers on their website in an accessible format. DOT is providing a sample accessible fillable PDF version of the DOT service animal forms on its Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP) website. Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available for download free of charge at https://get.adobe.com/reader, is needed to open the PDF version of the DOT service animal forms. Although DOT is providing these forms in PDF format, DOT encourages airlines to use an accessible web format such as HTML for the forms. Typically, for usability reasons, an accessible web format rather than PDF is used by entities when the data entered onto a form is received by the entity posting the form. Also, using an accessible web format, like HTML, has the added benefit of ensuring that the forms are accessible on mobile devices.
Finally, although the DOT service animal forms require a service animal user to identify the service animal’s name, we advise airline personnel against speaking the service animal’s name to avoid distracting the dog and having the dog’s attention on the speaker, which may interfere with the animal’s ability to assist its handler with his or her disability and diminish the handler’s ability to maintain control of the dog.
Posted December 23, 2020
Notice of Withdrawal of Request for Information on Exploring Industry Practices on Distribution and Display of Airline Fare, Schedule, and Availability Information. The Department of Transportation is withdrawing a Request for Information that solicited information on whether airline restrictions on the distribution or display of airline flight information harm consumers and constitute an unfair and deceptive business practice and/or an unfair method of competition.
Posted December 22, 2020
On December 10, 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation (Department) published in the Federal Register a final rule to amend the Department’s Air Carrier Access Act regulation on the transport of service animals by air. In that final rule, the Department allows airlines to require passengers traveling with service animals to provide carriers with two forms of documentation developed by the Department – a U.S. Department of Transportation Service Animal Air Transportation Form and a U.S. Department of Transportation Service Animal Relief Attestation Form. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), no person is required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. In accordance with this requirement, the Department announces that OMB has assigned control number “2105-0576” to the information collection requirements found in the Traveling by Air with Service Animals final rule. The expiration date for these forms is December 31, 2023.
The statement, which appears at the top of the Department’s service animal forms published in the Federal Register on December 10, 2020, states “According to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, an agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a valid OMB control number. The OMB control number for this information collection is ______________.” This statement must be replaced with the following PRA burden statement: “According to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, an agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a valid OMB control number. The estimated burden to complete this form is 15 minutes. The OMB control number for this information collection is 2105-0576. The authority for the collection expires on December 31, 2023.”
Posted December 2, 2020
Final Rule - Traveling by Air with Service Animals. This final rule amends the Department’s Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation on the transport of service animals by air. This final rule is intended to ensure that our air transportation system is safe for the traveling public and accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Posted November 27, 2020
Final Rule - Defining Unfair or Deceptive Practices. The Department has the statutory authority to protect airline consumers from unfair or deceptive practices by airlines or ticket agents, and most of its aviation consumer protections regulations are based on that authority. However, the terms unfair or deceptive are not defined in the statute. This rule defines those terms and is intended to provide regulated entities and other stakeholders clarity and certainty about what constitutes unfair or deceptive practices and the Department’s process for making such determinations in the context of aviation consumer protection rulemaking and enforcement actions.
Posted August 25, 2020
September 24, 2020 Meeting of the Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee. The next public meeting of the Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (ACPAC) will be held virtually on September 24, 2020. The ACPAC members will discuss and deliberate on three topics: (1) the report of the National In-Flight Sexual Misconduct Task Force (Task Force), an ACPAC subcommittee; (2) transparency of airline ancillary service fees; and (3) involuntary changes to travel itineraries. Virtual attendance is open to the public, to register please email the Department at ACPAC@dot.gov.
The Department’s press release announcing the meeting is available here.
Posted May 12, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Airline Ticket Refunds Given the Unprecedented Impact of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency on Air Travel - The Department’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings (Aviation Enforcement Office), a unit within the Office of the General Counsel, is providing answers to some of the most common questions about refunds to help consumers understand their rights and to ensure airlines and ticket agents are complying with aviation consumer protection requirements.
Posted April 29, 2020
Notice Regarding Current Administration and Enforcement of The Essential Air Service Program - The U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs is providing notice that it will authorize subsidy payments for certain non-completed flights under the Essential Air Service (EAS) Program given the significant reduction in passenger demand caused by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency and the financial impact on air carriers.
Posted April 23, 2020
Defining Unfair or Deceptive Practices - Grant of Request for Extension of Comment Period - The U.S. Department of Transportation has determined that an extension of the comment period for an additional 30 days is appropriate.
Posted April 17, 2020
Notice - Reporting of Causes of Flight Delays and Cancellations Given The Unprecedented Impact Of The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency On Air Travel.
Posted April 7, 2020
Denial of Request for Extension of Comment Period - Traveling by Air with Service Animals NPRM - The U.S. Department of Transportation is denying the requests to extend the comment period on the Department’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Traveling by Air with Service Animals. The NPRM was published in the Federal Register on February 5, 2020.
Posted April 3, 2020
Enforcement Notice Regarding Refunds by Carriers Given the Unprecedented Impact of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency on Air Travel - The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, a unit within the Office of the General Counsel, is issuing this notice to remind the traveling public and U.S. and foreign carriers that passengers should be refunded promptly when their scheduled flights are cancelled or significantly delayed. Although the COVID-19 public health emergency has had an unprecedented impact on air travel, the airlines’ obligation to refund passengers for cancelled or significantly delayed flights remains unchanged.
Posted March 16, 2020
A Report on Sexual Misconduct on Commercial Flights by the National In-Flight Sexual Misconduct Task Force - On March 16, 2020, the Task Force submitted a report to the Department’s Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee on awareness, training, reporting, and data collection regarding incidents of sexual misconduct by passengers onboard commercial aircraft.
Posted March 2, 2020
Enforcement Notice Regarding Denying Boarding by Airlines of Individuals Suspected of Having Coronavirus - The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings’ (Enforcement Office), a unit within the Office of the General Counsel, regulates whether airlines may limit access to transportation because a passenger has a communicable disease. The Enforcement Office is issuing this notice to advise the public that airlines may screen passengers during the check-in and boarding process for flights to the United States from countries with travel health notices issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) stemming from an outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). If passengers seeking to travel from these countries to the United States display symptoms of COVID-19, airlines may deny boarding to them under certain circumstances.
Posted February 20, 2020
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – Defining Unfair or Deceptive Practices. The Department of Transportation is proposing to amend its regulations regarding unfair or deceptive practices in aviation consumer protection. This rulemaking would define unfair and deceptive practices by airlines and ticket agents in air transportation. This rulemaking would also amend and clarify the procedures that the Department would follow when engaging in aviation consumer protection rulemaking and enforcement based on its authority to prohibit unfair or deceptive practices.
Posted January 22, 2020
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) - Traveling by Air with Service Animals. In the Department’s Traveling by Air with Service Animals Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Department proposes the following changes to its current Air Carrier Access Act service animal rule in 14 CFR Part 382:
- Definition of Service Animal: The Department proposes to define a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. This proposed definition of a service animal is similar to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) definition of a service animal.
- Emotional Support Animals: The Department’s proposed rulemaking does not require airlines to recognize emotional support animals as service animals. Airlines would be permitted to treat emotional support animals, which are not trained to do work or perform a task for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, as pets.
- Species: Under the Department’s proposed rule, airlines would only be required to transport dogs as service animals. As a result, airlines would no longer be required to accommodate miniature horses, cats, rabbits, birds, and all other service animals that airlines are currently required to transport.
- Documentation: Airlines would be permitted to require passengers with a disability traveling with a service animal to complete and submit to the airline the following forms developed by DOT as a condition of transportation: (1) U.S. Department of Transportation Service Animal Air Transportation Health Form, to be completed by a veterinarian in order to certify the animal’s good health; (2) U.S. Department of Transportation Service Animal Air Transportation Behavior and Training Attestation Form, to be completed by the service animal handler in order to attest to the animal’s good behavior; and (3) U.S. Department of Transportation Service Animal Relief Attestation, to be completed by the service animal handler when traveling with a service animal on a flight eight hours or longer in order to verify that the animal has the ability to either not relieve itself, or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner. Under the Department’s proposal, these three documents would be the only documents that an airline could require from an individual with a disability traveling with a service animal. The DOT forms would include a warning that it would be a Federal crime for a service animal handler to make false statements or representations on these forms to secure disability accommodations.
- Check-In Requirements: The Department proposes to allow airlines to require all passengers with a disability traveling with a service animal to check in one-hour before the check-in time for the general public as a condition for travel with a service animal to allow time to process the service animal documentation and observe the animal. However, the Department also proposes that if an airline imposes the one-hour check-in requirement on passengers traveling with service animals, the airline must designate a location in the airport for these passengers to check-in promptly by a trained agent.
- Number of Service Animals Per Passenger: The Department’s NPRM proposes to require airlines to accept up to two service animals per passenger for transport on an aircraft. In order to determine if the animal qualifies as a service animal, airlines are permitted to ask passengers with disabilities if the animal is required to accompany the passenger because of a disability, and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform, but the airline must not ask the passenger the nature of his or her disability, nor are airlines permitted to ask service animals to demonstrate the work or tasks they have been trained to perform.
- Large Service Animals: The Department proposes to allow airlines to limit service animals based on whether the animal can fit onto the service animal handler’s lap or within the handler’s foot space. Airlines would be permitted to reject service animals that are too large to fit on these spaces.
- Control of the Animal: The Department proposes to continue to permit airlines to require that service animals be harnessed, leashed, tethered or otherwise under the control of its handler at all times in the airport and on the aircraft. In general, tethering and similar means of controlling an animal that are permitted in the Americans with Disabilities Act context would be reasonable in the context of controlling service animals in the airport and on the aircraft.
- Direct Threat: The Department proposes to continue to allow airlines to refuse to transport a service animal if the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. In determining whether to deny transport to a serve animal on the basis that the animal poses a direct threat, the NPRM specifies that airline must make an individualized assessment based on reasonable judgments that relies on the best available objective evidence to ascertain the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; the probability that the potential injury will occur; and whether reasonable modifications will mitigate the risk.
- Breed Restrictions: The Department proposes to continue prohibiting airlines from imposing breed and other categorical restrictions on service animals. In the NPRM, the Department proposes explicit language that states that airlines are not permitted to refuse to transport service animals based on breed.
Posted January 22, 2020
The Department has published a Notice to inform U.S. and certain foreign air carriers of inflation adjustments to liability limits of air carriers and foreign air carriers under the Montreal Convention. The adjustments affect limits on liability for damages for passenger death or injury, delay in the carriage of passengers, and the loss, delay or damage to baggage or cargo, increasing those limits by nearly 14 percent. This increase became effective on December 28, 2019.