These traveler protections are in place because of Travelers United’s work
Our organization was instrumental in each of these changes.
Without Travelers United travelers would not have these protections.
These accomplishments have been achieved by working closely with our members, national media, the travel industry, the Department of Transportation (DOT), Congress and many other governmental agencies.
Travelers United has cemented its position in Washington as the organization that educates consumers, regulators, legislators and their staff.
- Aviation consumers get their first official voice in Washington with the creation of the Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protections within the Department of Transportation
- Creation of Airline Passenger Advocate at DOT. The first congressional mandate that passenger protections are part of DOT’s mission.
- Advertised price is the full mandatory price to fly. Full-fare advertising rule (all airfares must include airfare plus, mandatory taxes and fees)
- Denied boarding (or bumping) compensation is doubled to $1,350. Plus, it is connected to the consumer price index. Increase in denied boarding compensation if changed flight arrives more than 2 hours after original flight.
- No cancellation fees for 24 hours after purchase of airline tickets. The 24-hr ticket change rule (passengers have 24 hours to change or cancel their nonrefundable tickets) is instituted.
- Lost/damaged/delayed checked baggage compensation increased to $3,500. This compensation is for domestic flights. The compensation was increased from $800 to $3,500.
- Passengers can make complaints directly to DOT — effectively
- Prior to 2013, DOT acknowledged receipt; end of story
- After Travelers United work with DOT, the Department put file number on complaint; DOT notified passenger whether complaint is policy-related (to be handled by DOT) or service-related (and sent to airline in which case the airline must acknowledge receipt within 30 days and provide substantive response within 60 days).
- Tarmac delay rules extend to international flights
- International flight tarmac delay rules are for those over four hours
- Airline customer service plan requirements detailed by DOT
- Detailed list of required customer service clauses
- Foreign carriers are included to detail customer service plans
- Reimbursement of checked-baggage fee if baggage is lost
- Reimbursement of airfares and unused fees
- All consumer choices on website must be “opt-in.” Prohibition of opt-out provisions on airline and ticket agent sites (boxes on websites must only be opt-in rather than opt-out). This extends to trip insurance and other conditions that are optional
- Any price increases after airline ticket are forbidden (Once an airfare is purchased, that airfare and ancillary fees cannot be increased)
- Delay notifications. During delays, airlines must notify passengers every 30 minutes about delay situation
- Law passed by Congress to require children to sit with families. Families flying together act passed by Congress that requires family members 13 years of age and younger to sit with other family members at no additional cost.
- Baggage refund rules passed by Congress — lost bags get full baggage fee refund; delayed bags also get fees refund (rules currently being created after law has been passed).
- Phone calls forbidden on planes while in the air.
Bus Carrier Activities
- Bus stations open to accommodate late night /early morning connections. After consumer complaints about bus stations closing and stranding passengers in the cold after midnight, a meeting with then Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, resulted in an agreement with Greyhound to keep them open whenever there is scheduled bus activity.
- First steps in creating Bus Passenger Bill of Rights. Met with American Bus Association and DOT’s Motor Vehicle Safety division to encourage consumer protections for bus passengers
- Introduction of first bipartisan bill to eliminate resort fees. In 2019 both Republican and Democrat members introduced bill to eliminate unadvertised resort fees
Cruise Line Activities
- Cruise passenger Bill of Rights developed. Helped draft legislation to create a cruise line bill of rights and protect cruise passengers from crime outside the territorial waters of the U.S.
- Proposed extended law-enforcement to cruise lines boarded in US. Worked with Cruise Line Victims Association to allow US law enforcement to investigate crimes aboard cruise ships operating outside of the 12-nautical-mile national limits.
- Partnered with the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) to extend the consumer voice in matters rail related and bring NARP members into the conversation in all travel related matters.
Other Accomplishment and Current Activities
- Kept air traffic control towers open during 2012 spending cuts. Worked together with Airlines for America (A4A) to reopen control towers during 2012 sequestration
- Created the first privacy forum including DOT, FTC, aviation industry, travel distribution and consumers. Instrumental in bringing the DOT and FTC together for the first time to discuss travel privacy issues; and initiated the first meeting of all stakeholders in the travel market to discuss privacy issues — airlines, travel agents, online travel agents, GDSs, DOT, FTC and consumers
- Improvements to DOT explanation of passenger rights. DOT upgraded its website to explain passenger protection. Travelers United Proposed the display of posters and videos at airports informing passengers about rights in terms of lost luggage, overbooking, flight delays and tarmac delays.
- Reduced Customs and Passport Control Wait Times at airport gateways. Working together with A4A, US Travel Association, International Air Transport Association, Global Business Travel Association and other parties to reduce wait-time for foreign visitors (often over 4 hours) and returning citizens (often over 2 hours) at Custom and Border Patrol airport gateways
- Successfully stopped increases in airport taxes for passengers. Working together with USTA, A4A, ALPA and GBTA to stop increases of government-imposed taxes and fees. The TSA security fee was increased over our strong objections; a lawsuit is proceeding to roll back the redefinitions imposed by TSA. Current efforts are underway to prevent the proposed increases in the Passenger Facilities Charges, Agriculture Inspection fees and Customs and Border Protection fees.
- Publication of Rental Car Taxes in pricing tables. Now taxes and fees are shown in car-rental website pricing tables.