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Under the Obama Administration, the Department of Transportation has completed two comprehensive aviation consumer rulemakings that have led to better, more fair treatment for the traveling public.  Improvements include: 

Tarmac Delays Virtually Eliminated

In December 2009, the Department of Transportation issued a rule limiting “tarmac” delays at U.S. airports to no longer than three hours on a domestic flight without providing passengers with an opportunity to deplane.  In April 2011, a second rule was issued limiting tarmac delays to four hours on an international flight.  As a result, tarmac delays over three hours have been virtually eliminated over the last four years.  From January to December 2013, there were 84 tarmac delays longer than three hours on U.S. domestic flights compared to the 693 three-hour-plus tarmac delays between May 2009 and April 2010, the last 12-month period before the rule took effect.

Increased Compensation for Oversold Flights

Under new consumer rules, passengers are eligible for more compensation when they are involuntarily bumped from an oversold flight.  Under the new rule, most bumped passengers subject to short delays will receive compensation equal to double the one-way price of their tickets, up to $650 – $250 dollars more than under the original rule.  Those subject to longer delays would receive payments of four times the one-way value of their tickets, up to $1,300, or $500 more than the previous rule.  

Full Disclosure of Ticket Prices and Fees

Passengers now see the full fare when they get a quote for air transportation because the Department requires airlines and ticket agents to show a ticket price that includes all mandatory fees and taxes. 

Fees for Lost Bags Refunded

When a checked bag is lost, the airline is now required to refund any fee for carrying the bag. 

Prohibition on Increase in Ticket Price or Bag Fees After Purchase

Airlines and other sellers of air transportation are prohibited from increasing the price of a passenger’s ticket after it is bought.


Airlines and other sellers of air transportation are prohibited from increasing the price of a first or second checked bag or a carry-on bag that are not paid for at the time the air transportation is purchased, so consumers aren’t charged more for checking a bag at the airport.

24-Hour Grace Period for Ticket Reservations

Airlines must either permit passengers to hold a reservation without payment, or cancel a booking without penalty, for 24 hours after the reservation is made, if they make the reservation one week or more prior to a flight’s departure date. 

Increased Notification of Flight Delays, Cancellations, and Diversions

Airlines are required to promptly notify passengers of flight delays of over 30 minutes, as well as flight cancellations and diversions.

Last updated: Tuesday, May 20, 2014