Travelers may soon be able to get refunds for delayed baggage, more accurate information about on-time performance of the airlines they fly and more transparency when booking tickets with online travel services, under executive actions announced by the Obama administration Wednesday.

“Airline passengers deserve to have access to clear and complete information about the airlines they choose to fly and to expect fair and reasonable treatment when they fly,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in making the announcement. “The actions we’re taking today and in the coming months will expand aviation consumer protections we have previously enacted.

“These actions will enable passengers to make well-informed decisions when arranging travel, ensure that airlines treat consumers fairly, and give consumers a voice in how airlines are regulated,” Foxx said.

He said the announcement builds on previous efforts to promote competition and protect consumers at a time when mergers mean they have fewer choices when it comes to flying.

But Nicholas Calio, president and chief executive of Airlines for America, an industry trade group, said the public should be cautious about new efforts to “re-regulate” the industry.

“It would be difficult to find an industry that is more transparent than the airline industry; customers always know exactly what they are paying for before they buy,” Calio said. “Further, the fact that a record number of people are flying underscores that customers are benefiting every day from affordable fares and the ability to choose among carriers, amenities and service options that best meet their needs. Dictating to the airline industry distribution and commercial practices would only benefit those third parties who distribute tickets, not the flying public.”

Foxx said the administration already requires airlines to refund bag fees when luggage is lost, but he said officials soon hope to add a requirement that airlines refund fees when luggage is “substantially” delayed. Officials offered no details on how “substantially” would be defined.


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