The U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday announced a new rule change making it easier and quicker to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive practices by airlines.
“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 DOT said in a release.
Most of the Department’s aviation consumer protection regulations, such as the Department’s , overbooking and tarmac delay rules, are based on the Department’s authority to prohibit unfair or deceptive practices.
In addition, the DOT plans to address and institute rulemaking on airline ticket refunds and transparency of airline ancillary fees.
Currently, if the Department proposes 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.
“This rule improves the Department’s ability to issue timely rules that protect airline consumers from unfair and deceptive practices, a responsibility the Department takes seriously,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Polly Trottenberg.
The rule announced Monday will still provide all interested parties with an opportunity to be heard, but also gives the DOT 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.