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Consumer News

Some Airline Passenger-Protection Rules Delayed

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DALLAS (AP) – The government will delay some airline consumer-protection rules for several months after airline groups said they needed more time to prepare for the changes.

The delayed rules include disclosing the full cost of travel in advertisements, requiring baggage fees be listed in electronic-ticket confirmations, and giving travelers 24 hours to cancel tickets without penalty.

The Transportation Department said Wednesday that some rules will not take effect until Jan. 24. Most would have taken effect Aug. 23, although the advertising requirement was due to start Oct. 24.

Some provisions, including an increase in compensation for passengers who are bumped off oversold flights, will still take effect Aug. 23, the department said. So will penalties for international flights that are delayed on the tarmac for at least four hours.

Steve Lott, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, one of the groups that sought a delay, said airlines needed more time to overcome “significant” programming and training issues to meet some of the new rules.

One of the disputed requirements would force airlines to include all government-required fees and taxes in the prices they quote in advertising. By including government fees, the rule would make quoted fares appear higher — at least until consumers adjusted to the change. Southwest Airlines Co. objected.

While delaying some provisions, the department rejected a request by Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air to drop the requirements.

Spirit and Allegiant went to federal court last month to challenge several provisions, including one that would bar airlines from raising prices after a ticket is sold. Allegiant wanted the ability to sell tickets that could increase in price if jet fuel costs rose.

The Transportation Department told Spirit and Allegiant lawyers in a letter Wednesday that it had the authority to impose the rules and predicted the courts would uphold that view.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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