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New rules increase airline refunds

Airline passengers bumped from domestic flights are eligible to receive as much as $1,300 under new federal rules that increase the amount of compensation in such cases and require carriers to refund checked-baggage fees for lost luggage.

The Transportation Department rules are the latest to be imposed by federal regulators over the last two years in response to several notorious cases of flight delays, including a 2009 incident in which passengers were stranded for nearly six hours on a plane in Rochester, Minn.

Under the new regulations, passengers who are bumped from a scheduled flight can be compensated up to $1,300, an increase from the previous maximum of $800.

Although airlines must now refund any checked-bag fees when luggage is lost, they already were required to compensate passengers for the contents of lost, stolen or damaged bags.

Under Transportation Department rules that took effect last year, domestic airlines must return passengers to the terminal if a plane is delayed on the tarmac for three hours. Airlines that violate the tarmac rule face fines of up to $27,500 per passenger.

The new rules impose a similar restriction for international flights by foreign airlines that take off or land in the United States. Those carriers must return passengers to the terminal if they are delayed on the tarmac for four hours.