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New Regulations Proposed to Address Airline Passenger Complaints

The Obama Administration has proposed several new rules designed to address issues that airline passengers frequently complain about

Chief among them: a regulation requiring airlines to refund checked-baggage fees when luggage is "substantially delayed." The Administration hasn't defined, however, what constitutes a substantial delay.

The airline industry argues that the rule is unnecessary because many carriers already offer refunds for lost or delayed luggage. 

Other new measures backed by the Department of Transportation have to do with travel-booking websites that rank airlines higher or lower based on undisclosed payments or other incentives. The government would like to require those sites either to be neutral or announce their biases up front. Additionally, the Transportation Department is investigating a practice by airlines of not allowing travel websites to display their fares so that customers will have to click through to the airlines' own sites, where they can be upsold on seat assignments and upgrades.

Finally, the department proposes requiring small regional airlines such as Allegiant, Republic, and Shuttle America to begin reporting their on-time performance figures, just as the major carriers do.