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Airline Rules Address Tarmac Delays, Fee Refunds

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Airline Rules Address Tarmac Delays, Fee Refunds

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Airline Rules Address Tarmac Delays, Fee Refunds

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

Now to some good news for airline travelers frustrated by lost bags or delayed flights. Today, federal transportation officials are announcing new passenger protections.

NPR's Brian Naylor reports.

BRIAN NAYLOR: It's bad enough when an airline loses your checked bag. It adds insult to the injury when they've charged you to check that bag and you can't get your money back. No longer. Airlines will now be required to refund any checked bag fee if that bag is lost. It only seems fair, but Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the airline industry had to be forced into it.

Secretary RAY LAHOOD (U.S. Department of Transportation): The airline is not required to reimburse you for your baggage fee, believe it or not. People get so upset and mad that their bag didn't make it, and then they find out that they're not even going to be reimbursed? It's ridiculous.

NAYLOR: The new rules also expand the ban on lengthy tarmac delays to cover international carriers. Only domestic flights had been affected by the earlier rule. Now international flights on U.S. or foreign carriers can only keep you on the ground for four hours, with exceptions only for security or air traffic delays. During last December's blizzard in New York, passengers on at least one arriving flight sat trapped on their plane for 11 hours.

LaHood said the government instituted the new regulations because industry wouldn't.

Sec. LAHOOD: Competition has not taken care of these problems. We would not be addressing them if competition had done that.

NAYLOR: The new rules also double the amount of money passengers are due if an airline involuntarily bumps them from an oversold flight.

Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington.

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