New rules proposed by the White House this month aim to bring relief to airline customers suffering from lost or delayed baggage, while also pushing for greater transparency from airline and travel booking companies on their websites.
The government’s first proposal would require airlines to provide a refund for any checked luggage that is “substantially” delayed in getting back to customers after a flight. While compensation is already customary for luggage that is lost outright or damaged, this new rule would expand that safety net further and help to reduce unnecessary stress on travelers. Some in the industry have found it to be a needless or redundant concession, but legislators believe that making it an across-the-board rule would level the playing field and hold all airlines to the same standard, ensuring that none of them skimp on essential services in order to further their own bottom-line.
Additional proposals seek to assuage concerns among travelers about airline service, demanding that providers offer more transparency regarding their business practices on- and offline. This would take a number of different forms, affecting aspects of travel from booking and data management all the way up to flights themselves, with the objective of opening up the inner workings of airlines and booking companies so that customers need not worry about hidden fees or unfair treatment. Large airlines would be required to share all flight performance data, even from their smaller regional brands, whose activities would normally go unreported. Online ticket agents would also be further regulated, requiring them to disclose any kind of bias present in their comparative ticket listings; this way, under-the-table deals to promote one particular airline over others via payments or incentives would be either eliminated or placed out in the open, making it easier for customers to get the best possible deal to suit them and their needs. Similarly, airlines would also be required to publish their data on how they handle wheelchair-bound or otherwise disabled customers, as well as full listings of all the fares and charges a traveler may incur within a trip. Again, some industry insiders have protested these changes, arguing that they represent excessive government overreach into what is supposed to be a deregulated industry, but the eventual goal of the federal government is to enhance the travel experience for all customers, while also building a stronger bond of trust between them and the airlines.