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Congressman Introduces Passenger ‘Bill of Rights’ Legislation

Congressman Rick Nolan (D-Minnesota) introduced legislation today that would require U.S. airlines to provide travelers with a one-page “bill of rights.”

In a statement, Nolan said the legislation “would require airlines to provide consumers with a simple, plain language one-page document outlining their rights relating to flight cancellations or delays, involuntary denied boarding, lost or damaged baggage, and disabilities or injuries.”

To be clear, this bill is aimed at transparency and does not establish any kind of new rules or regulations. Every airline customer agrees to the terms of a contract of carriage when they purchase a ticket. These contracts detail your rights and expectations in various situations. But the contracts are somewhat arcane and not always easy to find, so Nolan’s legislation would require surface that important info in the form of a simple, one-page document.

“There is an urgent need for airlines to be transparent and inform consumers of their rights,” Nolan said in a statement. “This legislation is a crucial step forward in ensuring consumers’ safety and convenience … in dealing with everyday problems of baggage fees, flight cancellations, and lost baggage.”

The statement also notes that the European Union already provides such a one-page document online for airline consumers.

According to The Hill, a similar requirement is included in the House’s long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is stalled in Congress.

Nolan’s legislation would be a win for travelers. While we won’t gain any new rights, we should be entitled to greater transparency. Nolan’s statement references the infamous United incident from earlier this year, which is an extreme but representative example of vague, unspoken airline airline policies being strictly enforced. More common experiences include lost bags, cancelled or delayed flights, and overbooked flights. Passengers would benefit from clear explanation of their rights before those situations arise.

Of course, none of this means anything if the legislation goes nowhere, so we’ll just have to see what happens next.

Readers, would a simple, straightforward explanation of your rights be useful?

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