See how happy that couple looks about flying? Yea, not so much, right? That's because they're some of the very misfortunate thousands of people who missed their flights recently when American Airlines had to cancel more than 2,500 flights. Egads. What a headache.
Well, to try to improve the flight experience (for some reason, I kept chuckling while I was typing that line), U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters announced today a number of measures to strengthen passenger protections, improve consumer choice, reduce congestion, establish operational improvements to cut delays this summer and double the limits on compensation airlines must pay flyers bumped from oversold flights.
Under the new bumping rule, which goes into effect next month,
fliers who are involuntarily bumped would receive up to $400 if they are rescheduled to reach their destination within two hours of their original arrival time or four hours for international flights, and up to $800 if they are not rerouted within that timeframe.
According to the DOT, the new rule also covers more flights, including those operated with aircraft seating 30 people or more; the current rule covers flights with 60 seats or more. The amount of these payments are determined by the price of your ticket and the length of the delay, in addition to the value of your ticket ticket, which you can use for alternate transportation or have refunded if not used.
Measures to cut down on summer delays include: Allowing new and greater flexibility for aircraft to use alternative routes in the sky to avoid severe weather. This would include an "escape route" into Canadian airspace from the New York metropolitan area so airlines can fly around summer thunderstorms and high winds.
The FAA will also open a second westbound interstate highway in the sky for aircraft. This would provide a parallel route along a heavily-traveled aviation corridor, helping cut westbound delays from the New York area.
To manage congestion at New York's LaGuardia Airport (the facility has been capped since 1968, but it is still consistently one of the top three most delayed airports in the nation), the DOT is proposing two market-based options that would require a limited number of flights operated by the airlines in a given day, known as slots, to be made available through an auction process.
If you want to learn more, read about it here: http://www.fightgridlocknow.gov/aviation.htm