U.S. finalizes new rules sought by airlines on consumer protections

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Transportation Department on Friday said it would add new procedural hurdles before the government could bar most additional unfair or deceptive practices by airlines, in a move sought by the carriers.

The department is codifying a definition of what constitutes unfair or deceptive practices. It will requires a three-pronged analysis before adopting new rules deeming airline practices unfair or deceptive and require evidentiary hearings before most new rules are adopted.

Many Democrats in Congress urged the department to abandon the effort.

Representative Katie Porter said in July that the rule would “weaken enforcement of airline passenger protections.” Four senators including Maria Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Commerce Committee, said “industry groups could exploit these new procedural hoops — which the airlines themselves appear to be driving — to delay any DOT action to protect consumers.”

The Transportation Department said Friday the new rules that apply to airlines and ticket agents provide “greater transparency and predictability on how the department conducts its aviation consumer protection rulemaking and enforcement activities.”

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