U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has appointed the four members of a new committee that will advise the Secretary on measures to protect the rights of air travelers in the United States.

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A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in September 14’s Federal Register proposes a rule which would specify that the airline smoking rule prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes and similar products, just as tobacco products are now prohibited.

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The new consumer protections, finalized earlier this year, include requirements that airlines refund baggage fees if bags are lost, increase compensation provided to passengers bumped from oversold flights, and provide passengers greater protections from lengthy tarmac delays.

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‘Fly Rights’ offers air travelers advice on such issues as how to get the best airfare, what to expect when a flight is delayed or canceled, and how to avoid travel scams. It also provides information on various federal airline regulations, including accommodating air travelers with disabilities and rules for bumping and baggage compensation.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation has assessed a $200,000 fine against Southwest Airlines for violating federal rules covering passengers denied boarding on oversold flights.

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Air travelers in the United States must no longer be subjected to lengthy tarmac delays on domestic flights and will enjoy additional consumer protections as a result of a new rule becoming effective on April 29.

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In precedent-setting enforcement actions, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has fined three airlines for their roles in causing the passengers on board Continental Express flight CO2816 to remain on the aircraft for an unreasonable period of time at Rochester International Airport in Minnesota on August 8.

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Business Travel Coalition (BTC) has joined with FlyersRights.org in calling for passenger rights legislation that would require a 3-hour airline deplaning rule, following a BTC survey that found strong support by U.S. business travel industry participants for such legislation.

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