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March 10, 1999

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"Our Fair Treatment Initiative doesn't tell airlines what to do. Instead, it empowers passengers with all the information they need to make good decisions. These decisions will then drive the market and in turn, drive competition between airlines, which ultimately will result in better customer service for everyone."

Vice President Al Gore
March 10, 1999

Today, Vice President Al Gore announces a new plan to give airline passengers better resources for the 21st Century. This new plan will help ensure fair treatment for airline passengers, full disclosure of essential information, real compensation for unfair treatment, and the resources to implement the initiative.

Ensuring Fair Treatment For Airline Passengers. The Clinton-Gore initiative will help passengers who encounter changing travel conditions and problems with their flights. Airlines will be required to develop policies on notifying passengers about flight delays, cancellations and diversions; providing food, water and restroom facilities during ground delays; and evacuation procedures during extended ground delays. The policies will be filed with the Department of Transportation, which will place them on the Internet:

    Airlines will be required to return lost baggage within 24 hours and to provide more information on compensation for "bumped" passengers;

    Passengers will be given more information about the availability of low-priced tickets. Airlines will be required to file their policy with DOT on providing information to ticket purchasers on lower-priced ticket outlets;

    Passengers will be given more assistance in obtaining a response to complaints. Each airline will be required to designate a person responsible for complaint response with e-mail, business address and telephone contact information. A complaint form must be made readily available to travelers at the ticket counters;

    Ticket-purchasers will have more certainty about their fares. The Initiative requires that quoted fares remain in effect for at least 48 hours, if quoted sooner than seven days before the flight.

    Airlines will be required to provide timely refunds within 7 days for credit card purchases and respond in writing to passenger complaints within 60 days.

Providing Full Disclosure To Passengers. The Clinton-Gore Plan also contains provisions to allow:

    Passengers to obtain the policy of each airline on responding to consumer complaints and providing passengers with flight information and assistance. There will be full disclosure of airline consumer response plans on the Internet and at the ticket counters;

    Passengers to get more detailed information on the performance of individual airlines. Each airline will be required to file monthly reports with DOT of the number of complaints received in 15 categories. These reports will be made available to the public;

    Under new regulations adopted today, passengers will know on which airline they are traveling. Airlines will be required to make full disclosure of code-sharing at the time of ticket purchase.

Real Compensation For Airline Passengers. The Clinton-Gore plan will give passengers real compensation for errors made by airlines, including: compensation for mishandled baggage will be doubled to $2,500; and maximum compensation for being bumped from a flight will be doubled to $800.

Resources to Implement the Initiative. The Department of Transportation will seek funding to add enforcement staff to ensure that passengers are treated fairly. To ensure that passengers are given fair treatment, full disclosure and real compensation, the legislation requires airlines to train employees and agents to carry out consumer response plans and to commit sufficient resources for the plan.

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