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The Biden administration is tweaking rules on airline fees and refunds, saying it'll help consumers


The Biden administration issued final rules Wednesday to clarify when airlines must pay refunds for a delayed flight and to better disclose fees for baggage or canceling a reservation.

The Transportation Department said airlines will be required to provide automatic cash refunds within a few days for canceled flights and “significant” delays.

Under current regulations, airlines decide how long a delay must last before triggering refunds. The administration is removing that wiggle room by defining a significant delay as lasting at least three hours for domestic flights and six hours for international ones.

Airlines still will be allowed to offer another flight or a travel credit instead, but consumers can reject the offer.

The rule will also apply to refunds of checked-bag fees if the bag isn’t delivered within 12 hours for domestic flights or 15 to 30 hours for international flights. And it will apply to fees for things such as seat selection or an internet connection if the airline fails to provide the service.

The Transportation Department issued a separate rule requiring airlines and ticket agents to disclose upfront what they charge for checked and carry-on bags and canceling or changing a reservation. On airline websites, the fees must be shown the first time customers see a price and schedule.

The rule will also oblige airlines to tell passengers they are not required to pay extra for a seat. Many airlines now charge extra for certain spots, including exit-row seats and those near the front of the cabin.

The agency said the rule will save consumers more than $500 million a year.



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