Consumer Alert: New airline rules to help protect passengers

ROCHESTER,N.Y. — The U.S. Department of Transportation revealed some new airline rules Wednesday to help protect fliers.

Under these new rules airlines would be mandated to give you a refund if a delay over three hours blows up your plans and you decide to cancel. Even if the delay is weather-related, they still have to give you a refund.

“If your flight is delayed three hours or more for domestic itineraries and six hours or more for international, then you can just not take the flight and you can get a full refund,” explains travel expert Clint Henderson, also known as “The Points Guy.” “So that’s new and that’s helpful, I think. And that’s even in the case of weather. That used to be an excuse for airlines to use, ‘Oh, it was weather, it was beyond our control.’ Now we have some firmer rules around all of this. Just keep in mind that if you take the offer to get rebooked on a later flight, then you’re not entitled to a refund anymore.”

So, let’s break down these new rules.

The first one requires airlines to be transparent about extra fees — like checked bags, carry-ons, and seat selection. 

The second rule mandates airlines to give you cash refunds automatically. You don’t have to spend hours on the phones haggling with customer service agents.

Lastly, the airlines have to give you a refund in the form you paid for your ticket. So if you paid with a credit card, the airlines have seven days to refund your card. The airlines have 20 days for other forms of payment.

You also get a refund for services or add-ons — like if you paid for bags, seat selection or Wi-Fi. 

These new rules should go into effect in October. Experts say they’re more in line with the rules that European passengers already enjoy. The Department of Transportation has outlined a whole slew of rights you might not know you have.

To learn more about your rights as a passenger, click here.