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apr 22 2011

How far should the DOT go to protect travelers?

(Courtesy davidreid/Flickr)


This past Wednesday the Department of Transportation announced new rules designed to protect air travelers.

The latest set of regulations, which go into effect in August, will compel airlines to refund baggage fees for lost luggage, provide greater compensation for bumped passengers, and reveal fees and taxes in advertised airfare prices. The ban on tarmac delays of over four hours for international flights has also been expanded to cover foreign airlines operating out of U.S. airports.

Although government intervention can be controversial, I doubt that most travelers will take issue with these requirements, which standardize things that should be common sense—like not having to pay the airline for losing all of your belongings (in fact, shouldn't they be reimbursing you for losing your things?).

What's on my mind now is not whether or not these laws are a good idea, but whether the DOT should go a step farther? For example, one thing that drives me crazy is when the seats in coach are designed to recline so far back that I practically feel like I'm spooning with the person in front of me. Worse, is that when these seats are fully reclined you can't even use the tray table in front of you—so much for enjoying a meal or using your laptop. Some planes seem to be worse than others, and that has me thinking—should the pitch that a seat can tilt to in coach be regulated to the government?

What do think? Am I being too nit-picky? Are there other things that DOT should consider regulating? Tell us below.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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