Airline Passengers Get New Rights Starting Now

Getting bumped from your flight may not be such a bad thing

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    SFO was selected both because it is one of the busiest commercial airports and has intersecting runways.

    It's good news for passengers at all three Bay Area airports. 

    The news is not so good for airlines, because in most cases it means higher compensations for their passengers who are inconvienced.

    Starting Tuesday, new rules go into affect that will cost airlines money when certain things go wrong.

    The rules don't cover things like a San Francisco fog delay.

    Here's what passengers need to know: the first new rule will help them understand some of those fees we all have to pay when we book tickets.  Airlines are being forced to be more transparent, fees must be prominently displayed on their websites before a ticket is purchased -- from baggage fees to cancellation fees to all taxes.

    If airlines lose your luggage, those baggage fees you paid for their safe travel must be reimbursed.  But if the airlines find your luggage and it's simply delayed, you won't get that money back.

    File Consumer Complaint

    Also starting Tuesday, the feds are requiring airlines to compensate passengers a lot more for being bumped off their over-booked flights.  As it stood, you were entitled to the full cost of your ticket.  Now, if you get bumped, you could be entitled to double that price up to $650.  And that's just if you have to be delayed by a few hours.  An extended delay could cost the airline up to four times the cost of your ticket, up to $1,300.

    Consumer advocates are pleased with the new federal rules.  It proves, perhaps, that time is money -- particularly for this new rule -- get stuck on the tarmac for more than four hours on an international flight, and the airline has to pay the Department of Transportation $27,000 per passenger.  It's an incentive to keep air traffic flowing.

    And there's more to come.

    Starting in January, airlines have to allow customers to cancel or change their reservations without penalty fees if it's within 24 hours of booking it and at least a week before departure.

    Airlines will also be forced to notify passengers of cancellations, diversions and delays of more than 30 minutes -- that could save time at the airport.

    And finally,  all airline carriers will be required to display all the government taxes and fees in all advertised prices.

    Most of these go into effect Aug. 23, the rest on January 24, 2012.