Airline Passenger Rights: The Federal Role in Aviation Consumer Protection [May 20, 2013] [open pdf - 355KB]
"The deregulation of the airline industry in the United States in 1978 eliminated most governmental control over most business practices of airlines. However, the federal government continues to regulate certain practices for the protection of the airlines' customers, in addition to its long-standing role in overseeing air safety. Congressional interest in the rights of airline passengers became intense between 2007 and 2009, when a series of delays stranded passengers aboard airplanes at U.S. airports for 10 hours or longer. In the first six months of 2009, for example, there were reportedly 586 tarmac delays of more than three hours, including some instances in which passengers lacked access to food or drink or in which aircraft lavatories ceased to function. Since then, Congress has strengthened passengers' rights under federal law, and many Members of Congress have continued to follow aviation consumer issues closely. This report examines aviation consumer protections in the post-deregulation era. It explains the roles of Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in protecting airline consumers, and discusses some major passenger rights issues and related laws and regulations."
CRS Report for Congress, R43078