[USC02] 49 USC Ch. 423: PASSENGER AIR SERVICE IMPROVEMENTS
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49 USC Ch. 423: PASSENGER AIR SERVICE IMPROVEMENTS
From Title 49—TRANSPORTATIONSUBTITLE VII—AVIATION PROGRAMSPART A—AIR COMMERCE AND SAFETYsubpart ii—economic regulation

CHAPTER 423—PASSENGER AIR SERVICE IMPROVEMENTS

Sec.
42301.
Emergency contingency plans.
42302.
Consumer complaints.
42303.
Use of insecticides in passenger aircraft.
42304.
Widespread disruptions.

        

Amendments

2018Pub. L. 115–254, div. B, title IV, §428(b), Oct. 5, 2018, 132 Stat. 3341, added item 42304.

Advisory Committee on Air Ambulance and Patient Billing

Pub. L. 115–254, div. B, title IV, §418, Oct. 5, 2018, 132 Stat. 3334, provided that:

"(a) In General.—Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act [Oct. 5, 2018], the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, shall establish an advisory committee for the purpose of reviewing options to improve the disclosure of charges and fees for air medical services, better inform consumers of insurance options for such services, and protect consumers from balance billing.

"(b) Composition of the Advisory Committee.—The advisory committee shall be composed of the following members:

"(1) The Secretary of Transportation, or the Secretary's designee.

"(2) The Secretary of Health and Human Services, or the Secretary's designee.

"(3) One representative, to be appointed by the Secretary of Transportation, of each of the following:

"(A) Each relevant Federal agency, as determined by the Secretary of Transportation.

"(B) State insurance regulators[.]

"(C) Health insurance providers.

"(D) Patient advocacy groups.

"(E) Consumer advocacy groups.

"(F) Physician[s] specializing in emergency, trauma, cardiac, or stroke.

"(4) Three representatives, to be appointed by the Secretary of Transportation, to represent the various segments of the air ambulance industry.

"(5) Additional three representatives not covered under paragraphs (1) through (4), as determined necessary and appropriate by the Secretary.

"(c) Consultation.—The advisory committee shall, as appropriate, consult with relevant experts and stakeholders not captured in [subsection] (b) while conducting its review.

"(d) Recommendations.—The advisory committee shall make recommendations with respect to disclosure of charges and fees for air ambulance services and insurance coverage, consumer protection and enforcement authorities of both the Department of Transportation and State authorities, and the prevention of balance billing to consumers. The recommendations shall address, at a minimum—

"(1) the costs, benefits, practicability, and impact on all stakeholders of clearly distinguishing between charges for air transportation services and charges for non-air transportation services in bills and invoices, including the costs, benefits, and practicability of—

"(A) developing cost-allocation methodologies to separate charges for air transportation services from charges for non-air transportation services; and

"(B) formats for bills and invoices that clearly distinguish between charges for air transportation services and charges for non-air transportation services;

"(2) options, best practices, and identified standards to prevent instances of balance billing such as improving network and contract negotiation, dispute resolution between health insurance and air medical service providers, and explanation of insurance coverage and subscription programs to consumers;

"(3) steps that can be taken by State legislatures, State insurance regulators, State attorneys general, and other State officials as appropriate, consistent with current legal authorities regarding consumer protection;

"(4) recommendations made by the Comptroller General study, GAO–17–637, including what additional data from air ambulance providers and other sources should be collected by the Department of Transportation to improve its understanding of the air ambulance market and oversight of the air ambulance industry for the purposes of pursuing action related to unfair or deceptive practices or unfair methods of competition, which may include—

"(A) cost data;

"(B) standard charges and payments received per transport;

"(C) whether the provider is part of a hospital-sponsored program, municipality-sponsored program, hospital-independent partnership (hybrid) program, or independent program;

"(D) number of transports per base and helicopter;

"(E) market shares of air ambulance providers inclusive of any parent or holding companies;

"(F) any data indicating the extent of competition among air ambulance providers on the basis of price and service;

"(G) prices assessed to consumers and insurers for air transportation and any non-transportation services provided by air ambulance providers; and

"(H) financial performance of air ambulance providers;

"(5) definitions of all applicable terms that are not defined in statute or regulations; and

"(6) other matters as determined necessary or appropriate.

"(e) Report.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the first meeting of the advisory committee, the advisory committee shall submit to the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the appropriate committees of Congress [Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives] a report containing the recommendations made under subsection (d).

"(f) Rulemaking.—Upon receipt of the report under subsection (e), the Secretary of Transportation shall consider the recommendations of the advisory committee and issue regulations or other guidance as deemed necessary—

"(1) to require air ambulance providers to regularly report data to the Department of Transportation;

"(2) to increase transparency related to Department of Transportation actions related to consumer complaints; and

"(3) to provide other consumer protections for customers of air ambulance providers.

"(g) Elimination of Advisory Council on Transportation Statistics.—The Advisory Council on Transportation Statistics shall terminate on the date of enactment of this Act [Oct. 5, 2018]."

Refunds for Other Fees That Are Not Honored by a Covered Air Carrier

Pub. L. 115–254, div. B, title IV, §421, Oct. 5, 2018, 132 Stat. 3337, provided that: "Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act [Oct. 5, 2018], the Secretary of Transportation shall promulgate regulations that require each covered air carrier to promptly provide a refund to a passenger of any ancillary fees paid for services related to air travel that the passenger does not receive, including on the passenger's scheduled flight, on a subsequent replacement itinerary if there has been a rescheduling, or for a flight not taken by the passenger."

[For definition of "covered air carrier" as used in section 421 of Pub. L. 115–254, set out above, see section 401 of Pub. L. 115–254, set out as a Definitions of Terms in Pub. L. 115–254 note under section 40101 of this title.]

Advance Boarding During Pregnancy

Pub. L. 115–254, div. B, title IV, §422, Oct. 5, 2018, 132 Stat. 3337, provided that: "Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act [Oct. 5, 2018], the Secretary of Transportation shall review air carrier policies regarding traveling during pregnancy and, if appropriate, may revise regulations, as the Secretary considers necessary, to require an air carrier to offer advance boarding of an aircraft to a pregnant passenger who requests such assistance."

TICKETS Act

Pub. L. 115–254, div. B, title IV, §425, Oct. 5, 2018, 132 Stat. 3338, provided that:

"(a) Short Title.—This section may be cited as the 'Transparency Improvements and Compensation to Keep Every Ticketholder Safe Act of 2018' or the 'TICKETS Act'.

"(b) Boarded Passengers.—Beginning on the date of enactment of this Act [Oct. 5, 2018], a covered air carrier may not deny a revenue passenger traveling on a confirmed reservation permission to board, or involuntarily remove that passenger from the aircraft, once a revenue passenger has—

"(1) checked in for the flight prior to the check-in deadline; and

"(2) had their ticket or boarding pass collected or electronically scanned and accepted by the gate agent.

"(c) Limitations.—The prohibition pursuant to subsection (b) shall not apply when—

"(1) there is a safety, security, or health risk with respect to that revenue passenger or there is a safety or security issue requiring removal of a revenue passenger; or

"(2) the revenue passenger is engaging in behavior that is obscene, disruptive, or otherwise unlawful.

"(d) Rule of Construction.—Nothing in this section may be construed to limit or otherwise affect the responsibility or authority of a pilot in command of an aircraft under section 121.533 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, or limit any penalty under section 46504 of title 49, United States Code.

"(e) Involuntary [sic] Denied Boarding Compensation.—Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall issue a final rule to revise part 250 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, to clarify that—

"(1) there is not a maximum level of compensation an air carrier or foreign air carrier may pay to a passenger who is involuntarily denied boarding as the result of an oversold flight;

"(2) the compensation levels set forth in that part are the minimum levels of compensation an air carrier or foreign air carrier must pay to a passenger who is involuntarily denied boarding as the result of an oversold flight; and

"(3) an air carrier or foreign air carrier must proactively offer to pay compensation to a passenger who is voluntarily or involuntarily denied boarding on an oversold flight, rather than waiting until the passenger requests the compensation.

"(f) GAO Report on Oversales.—

"(1) In general.—The Comptroller General of the United States shall review airline policies and practices related to oversales of flights.

"(2) Considerations.—In conducting the review under paragraph (1), the Comptroller General shall examine—

"(A) the impact on passengers as a result of an oversale, including increasing or decreasing the costs of passenger air transportation;

"(B) economic and operational factors which result in oversales;

"(C) whether, and if so how, the incidence of oversales varies depending on markets;

"(D) potential consequences on the limiting of oversales; and

"(E) best practices on how oversale policies can be communicated to passengers at airline check-in desks and airport gates.

"(3) Report.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress [Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives] a report on the review under paragraph (2).

"(g) Gate Notice of Policies.—The Secretary may provide guidance on how these policies should be communicated at covered air carrier check-in desks and airport gates."

[For definition of "covered air carrier" as used in section 425 of Pub. L. 115–254, set out above, see section 401 of Pub. L. 115–254, set out as a Definitions of Terms in Pub. L. 115–254 note under section 40101 of this title.]

Consumer Protection Requirements Relating to Large Ticket Agents

Pub. L. 115–254, div. B, title IV, §427, Oct. 5, 2018, 132 Stat. 3340, provided that:

"(a) In General.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act [Oct. 5, 2018], the Secretary of Transportation shall issue a final rule to require large ticket agents to adopt minimum customer service standards.

"(b) Purpose.—The purpose of the final rule shall be to ensure that, to the extent feasible, there is a consistent level of consumer protection regardless of where consumers purchase air fares and related air transportation services.

"(c) Standards.—In issuing the final rule, the Secretary shall consider, to the extent feasible, establishing standards consistent with all customer service and disclosure requirements applicable to covered air carriers under this title [see Tables for classification] and associated regulations.

"(d) Definitions.—In this section, the following definitions apply:

"(1) Ticket agent.—

"(A) In general.—Subject to subparagraph (B), the term 'ticket agent' has the meaning given that term in section 40102(a) of title 49, United States Code.

"(B) Inclusion.—The term 'ticket agent' includes a person who acts as an intermediary involved in the sale of air transportation directly or indirectly to consumers, including by operating an electronic airline information system, if the person—

"(i) holds the person out as a source of information about, or reservations for, the air transportation industry; and

"(ii) receives compensation in any way related to the sale of air transportation.

"(2) Large ticket agent.—The term 'large ticket agent' means a ticket agent with annual revenues of $100,000,000 or more.

"(e) Enforcement.—No large ticket agent may be found in noncompliance of any standard or requirement adopted in the final rule required by this section if—

"(1) the large ticket agent is unable to meet the new standard or requirement due to the lack of information or data from the covered air carrier and the information is required for the large ticket agent to comply with such standard or requirement; or

"(2) the sale of air transportation is made by a large ticket agent pursuant to a specific corporate or government fare management contract."

[For definition of "covered air carrier" as used in section 427 of Pub. L. 115–254, set out above, see section 401 of Pub. L. 115–254, set out as a Definitions of Terms in Pub. L. 115–254 note under section 40101 of this title.]

Passenger Rights

Pub. L. 115–254, div. B, title IV, §429, Oct. 5, 2018, 132 Stat. 3341, provided that:

"(a) Guidelines.—Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act [Oct. 5, 2018], the Secretary of Transportation shall require each covered air carrier to submit a summarized 1-page document that describes the rights of passengers in air transportation, including guidelines for the following:

"(1) Compensation (regarding rebooking options, refunds, meals, and lodging) for flight delays of various lengths.

"(2) Compensation (regarding rebooking options, refunds, meals, and lodging) for flight diversions.

"(3) Compensation (regarding rebooking options, refunds, meals, and lodging) for flight cancellations.

"(4) Compensation for mishandled baggage, including delayed, damaged, pilfered, or lost baggage.

"(5) Voluntary relinquishment of a ticketed seat due to overbooking or priority of other passengers.

"(6) Involuntary denial of boarding and forced removal for whatever reason, including for safety and security reasons.

"(b) Filing of Summarized Guidelines.—Not later than 90 days after each air carrier submits its guidelines to the Secretary under subsection (a), the air carrier shall make available such 1-page document in a prominent location on its website."

[For definition of "covered air carrier" as used in section 429 of Pub. L. 115–254, set out above, see section 401 of Pub. L. 115–254, set out as a Definitions of Terms in Pub. L. 115–254 note under section 40101 of this title.]

Minimum Dimensions for Passenger Seats

Pub. L. 115–254, div. B, title V, §577, Oct. 5, 2018, 132 Stat. 3394, provided that:

"(a) In General.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act [Oct. 5, 2018], and after providing notice and an opportunity for comment, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall issue regulations that establish minimum dimensions for passenger seats on aircraft operated by air carriers in interstate air transportation or intrastate air transportation, including minimums for seat pitch, width, and length, and that are necessary for the safety of passengers.

"(b) Definitions.—The definitions contained in section 40102(a) of title 49, United States Code, apply to this section."

Family Seating

Pub. L. 114–190, title II, §2309, July 15, 2016, 130 Stat. 648, provided that:

"(a) In General.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act [July 15, 2016], the Secretary of Transportation shall review and, if appropriate, establish a policy directing all air carriers providing scheduled passenger interstate or intrastate air transportation to establish policies that enable a child, who is age 13 or under on the date an applicable flight is scheduled to occur, to be seated in a seat adjacent to the seat of an accompanying family member over the age of 13, to the maximum extent practicable and at no additional cost, except when assignment to an adjacent seat would require an upgrade to another cabin class or a seat with extra legroom or seat pitch for which additional payment is normally required.

"(b) Effect on Airline Boarding and Seating Policies.—When considering any new policy under this section, the Secretary shall consider the traditional seating and boarding policies of air carriers providing scheduled passenger interstate or intrastate air transportation and whether those policies generally allow families to sit together.

"(c) Statutory Construction.—Notwithstanding the requirement in subsection (a), nothing in this section may be construed to allow the Secretary to impose a significant change in the overall seating or boarding policy of an air carrier providing scheduled passenger interstate or intrastate air transportation that has an open or flexible seating policy in place that generally allows adjacent family seating as described in subsection (a)."

Establishment of Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection

Pub. L. 112–95, title IV, §411, Feb. 14, 2012, 126 Stat. 88, as amended by Pub. L. 114–55, title I, §102(i), Sept. 30, 2015, 129 Stat. 523; Pub. L. 114–141, title I, §102(g), Mar. 30, 2016, 130 Stat. 323; Pub. L. 114–190, title I, §1102(j), July 15, 2016, 130 Stat. 618; Pub. L. 115–63, title I, §102(i), Sept. 29, 2017, 131 Stat. 1170; Pub. L. 115–141, div. M, title I, §102(g), Mar. 23, 2018, 132 Stat. 1046; Pub. L. 115–254, div. B, title IV, §415, Oct. 5, 2018, 132 Stat. 3333, provided that:

"(a) In General.—The Secretary of Transportation shall establish an advisory committee for aviation consumer protection to advise the Secretary in carrying out activities relating to airline customer service improvements.

"(b) Membership.—The Secretary shall appoint the members of the advisory committee, which shall be comprised of one representative each of—

"(1) air carriers;

"(2) airport operators;

"(3) State or local governments with expertise in consumer protection matters; and

"(4) nonprofit public interest groups with expertise in consumer protection matters.

"(c) Vacancies.—A vacancy in the advisory committee shall be filled in the manner in which the original appointment was made.

"(d) Travel Expenses.—Members of the advisory committee shall serve without pay but shall receive travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in accordance with subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code.

"(e) Chairperson.—The Secretary shall designate, from among the individuals appointed under subsection (b), an individual to serve as chairperson of the advisory committee.

"(f) Duties.—The duties of the advisory committee shall include—

"(1) evaluating existing aviation consumer protection programs and providing recommendations for the improvement of such programs, if needed; and

"(2) providing recommendations for establishing additional aviation consumer protection programs, if needed.

"(g) Report to Congress.—Not later than February 1 of each of the first 2 calendar years beginning after the date of enactment of this Act [Feb. 14, 2012], the Secretary shall transmit to Congress a report containing—

"(1) the recommendations made by the advisory committee during the preceding calendar year; and

"(2) an explanation of how the Secretary has implemented each recommendation and, for each recommendation not implemented, the Secretary's reason for not implementing the recommendation.

"(h) Termination.—The advisory committee established under this section shall terminate on September 30, 2023."

Disclosure of Seat Dimensions To Facilitate the Use of Child Safety Seats on Aircraft

Pub. L. 112–95, title IV, §412, Feb. 14, 2012, 126 Stat. 89, provided that: "Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act [Feb. 14, 2012], the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall initiate a rulemaking to require each air carrier operating under part 121 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, to post on the Internet Web site of the air carrier the maximum dimensions of a child safety seat that can be used on each aircraft operated by the air carrier to enable passengers to determine which child safety seats can be used on those aircraft."

§42301. Emergency contingency plans

(a) Submission of Air Carrier and Airport Plans.—Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this section, each of the following air carriers and airport operators shall submit to the Secretary of Transportation for review and approval an emergency contingency plan in accordance with the requirements of this section:

(1) An air carrier providing covered air transportation at a commercial airport.

(2) An operator of a commercial airport.

(3) An operator of an airport used by an air carrier described in paragraph (1) for diversions.


(b) Air Carrier Plans.—

(1) Plans for individual airports.—An air carrier shall submit an emergency contingency plan under subsection (a) for—

(A) each airport at which the carrier provides covered air transportation; and

(B) each airport at which the carrier has flights for which the carrier has primary responsibility for inventory control.


(2) Contents.—An emergency contingency plan submitted by an air carrier for an airport under subsection (a) shall contain a description of how the carrier will—

(A) provide adequate food, potable water, restroom facilities, comfortable cabin temperatures, and access to medical treatment for passengers onboard an aircraft at the airport when the departure of a flight is delayed or the disembarkation of passengers is delayed;

(B) share facilities and make gates available at the airport in an emergency; and

(C) allow passengers to deplane following an excessive tarmac delay in accordance with paragraph (3).


(3) Deplaning following an excessive tarmac delay.—For purposes of paragraph (2)(C), an emergency contingency plan submitted by an air carrier under subsection (a) shall incorporate the following requirements:

(A) A passenger shall have the option to deplane an aircraft and return to the airport terminal when there is an excessive tarmac delay.

(B) The option described in subparagraph (A) shall be offered to a passenger even if a flight in covered air transportation is diverted to a commercial airport other than the originally scheduled airport.

(C) In providing the option described in subparagraph (A), the air carrier shall begin to return the aircraft to a suitable disembarkation point—

(i) in the case of a flight in interstate air transportation, not later than 3 hours after the main aircraft door is closed in preparation for departure; and

(ii) in the case of a flight in foreign air transportation, not later than 4 hours after the main aircraft door is closed in preparation for departure.


(D) Notwithstanding the requirements described in subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C), a passenger shall not have an option to deplane an aircraft and return to the airport terminal in the case of an excessive tarmac delay if—

(i) an air traffic controller with authority over the aircraft advises the pilot in command that permitting a passenger to deplane would significantly disrupt airport operations; or

(ii) the pilot in command determines that permitting a passenger to deplane would jeopardize passenger safety or security.


(c) Airport Plans.—An emergency contingency plan submitted by an airport operator under subsection (a) shall contain a description of how the operator, to the maximum extent practicable, will—

(1) provide for the deplanement of passengers following excessive tarmac delays;

(2) provide for the sharing of facilities and make gates available at the airport in an emergency; and

(3) provide a sterile area following excessive tarmac delays for passengers who have not yet cleared United States Customs and Border Protection.


(d) Updates.—

(1) Air carriers.—An air carrier shall update each emergency contingency plan submitted by the carrier under subsection (a) every 3 years and submit the update to the Secretary for review and approval.

(2) Airports.—An airport operator shall update each emergency contingency plan submitted by the operator under subsection (a) every 5 years and submit the update to the Secretary for review and approval.


(e) Approval.—

(1) In general.—Not later than 60 days after the date of the receipt of an emergency contingency plan submitted under subsection (a) or an update submitted under subsection (d), the Secretary shall review and approve or, if necessary, require modifications to the plan or update to ensure that the plan or update will effectively address emergencies and provide for the health and safety of passengers.

(2) Failure to approve or require modifications.—If the Secretary fails to approve or require modifications to a plan or update under paragraph (1) within the timeframe specified in that paragraph, the plan or update shall be deemed to be approved.

(3) Adherence required.—An air carrier or airport operator shall adhere to an emergency contingency plan of the carrier or operator approved under this section.


(f) Minimum Standards.—The Secretary shall establish, as necessary or desirable, minimum standards for elements in an emergency contingency plan required to be submitted under this section.

(g) Public Access.—An air carrier or airport operator required to submit an emergency contingency plan under this section shall ensure public access to the plan after its approval under this section on the Internet Web site of the carrier or operator or by such other means as determined by the Secretary.

(h) Reports.—Not later than 30 days after any flight experiences an excessive tarmac delay, the air carrier responsible for such flight shall submit a written description of the incident and its resolution to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the Department of Transportation.

(i) Definitions.—In this section, the following definitions apply:

(1) Commercial airport.—The term "commercial airport" means a large hub, medium hub, small hub, or nonhub airport.

(2) Covered air transportation.—The term "covered air transportation" means scheduled or public charter passenger air transportation provided by an air carrier that operates an aircraft that as originally designed has a passenger capacity of 30 or more seats.

(3) Tarmac delay.—The term "tarmac delay" means the period during which passengers are on board an aircraft on the tarmac—

(A) awaiting takeoff after the aircraft doors have been closed or after passengers have been boarded if the passengers have not been advised they are free to deplane; or

(B) awaiting deplaning after the aircraft has landed.


(4) Excessive tarmac delay.—The term "excessive tarmac delay" means a tarmac delay of more than—

(A) 3 hours for a flight in interstate air transportation; or

(B) 4 hours for a flight in foreign air transportation.

(Added Pub. L. 112–95, title IV, §415(a), Feb. 14, 2012, 126 Stat. 93; amended Pub. L. 114–190, title II, §2308(a), (b), July 15, 2016, 130 Stat. 648.)

References in Text

The date of enactment of this section, referred to in subsec. (a), is the date of enactment of Pub. L. 112–95, which was approved Feb. 14, 2012.

Amendments

2016—Subsec. (b)(3)(C). Pub. L. 114–190, §2308(a)(2), added subpar. (C). Former subpar. (C) redesignated (D).

Subsec. (b)(3)(D). Pub. L. 114–190, §2308(a)(1), (3), redesignated subpar. (C) as (D) and substituted "subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C)" for "subparagraphs (A) and (B)" in introductory provisions.

Subsec. (i)(4). Pub. L. 114–190, §2308(b), amended par. (4) generally. Prior to amendment, text read as follows: "The term 'excessive tarmac delay' means a tarmac delay that lasts for a length of time, as determined by the Secretary."

Effective Date

Pub. L. 112–95, title IV, §415(c), Feb. 14, 2012, 126 Stat. 96, provided that: "Except as otherwise provided, the requirements of chapter 423 of title 49, United States Code, as added by this section, shall begin to apply 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act [Feb. 14, 2012]."

Regulations

Pub. L. 114–190, title II, §2308(c), July 15, 2016, 130 Stat. 648, provided that: "Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this section [July 15, 2016], the Secretary of Transportation shall issue regulations and take other actions necessary to carry out the amendments made by this section [amending this section]."

§42302. Consumer complaints

(a) In General.—The Secretary of Transportation shall establish a consumer complaints toll-free hotline telephone number for the use of passengers in air transportation (including transportation by air ambulance (as defined by the Secretary of Transportation)) and shall take actions to notify the public of—

(1) that telephone number; and

(2) the Internet Web site of the Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the Department of Transportation.


(b) Notice to Passengers on the Internet.—An air carrier or foreign air carrier providing scheduled air transportation using any aircraft that as originally designed has a passenger capacity of 30 or more passenger seats shall include on the Internet Web site of the carrier—

(1) the hotline telephone number established under subsection (a);

(2) the e-mail address, telephone number, and mailing address of the air carrier for the submission of complaints by passengers about air travel service problems; and

(3) the Internet Web site and mailing address of the Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the Department of Transportation for the submission of complaints by passengers about air travel service problems.


(c) Notice to Passengers on Boarding Documentation.—Each air carrier and foreign air carrier shall include the hotline telephone number established under subsection (a) on—

(1) prominently displayed signs of the carrier at the airport ticket counters in the United States where the carrier operates; and

(2) any electronic confirmation of the purchase of a passenger ticket for air transportation issued by the carrier.


(d) Use of New Technologies.—The Secretary shall periodically evaluate the benefits of using mobile phone applications or other widely used technologies to provide new means for air passengers to communicate complaints in addition to the telephone number established under subsection (a) and shall provide such new means as the Secretary determines appropriate.

(e) Air Ambulance Providers.—Each air ambulance provider shall include the hotline telephone number, link to the Internet website established under subsection (a), and contact information for the Aviation Consumer Advocate established under section 425 1 on—

(1) any invoice, bill, or other communication provided to a passenger or customer of the provider; and

(2) its Internet Web site, and any related mobile device application.

(Added Pub. L. 112–95, title IV, §415(a), Feb. 14, 2012, 126 Stat. 95; amended Pub. L. 115–254, div. B, title IV, §§405, 419(a), 423(a), Oct. 5, 2018, 132 Stat. 3329, 3336, 3337.)

References in Text

Section 425, referred to in subsec. (e), is probably a reference to section 425 of Pub. L. 115–254 but should be a reference to section 424 of Pub. L. 115–254, which is set out as a note below and relates to the establishment of an Aviation Consumer Advocate. There is no section 425 of this title, and section 425 of Pub. L. 115–254, which is set out as a note preceding section 42301 of this title, relates to prohibition of denial of boarding for certain revenue passengers.

Amendments

2018—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 115–254, §419(a)(1), inserted "(including transportation by air ambulance (as defined by the Secretary of Transportation))" after "air transportation" in introductory provisions.

Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 115–254, §423(a)(1), substituted "Each air carrier and foreign air carrier" for "An air carrier or foreign air carrier providing scheduled air transportation using any aircraft that as originally designed has a passenger capacity of 30 or more passenger seats" in introductory provisions.

Subsec. (c)(1). Pub. L. 115–254, §423(a)(2), substituted "carrier operates" for "air carrier operates".

Subsec. (c)(2). Pub. L. 115–254, §423(a)(3), substituted "carrier" for "air carrier".

Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 115–254, §405, added subsec. (d).

Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 115–254, §419(a)(2), added subsec. (e).

Effective Date

Requirements of this section to begin to apply 60 days after Feb. 14, 2012, except as otherwise provided, see section 415(c) of Pub. L. 112–95, set out as a note under section 42301 of this title.

Rulemaking

Pub. L. 115–254, div. B, title IV, §423(b), Oct. 5, 2018, 132 Stat. 3337, provided that: "Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act [Oct. 5, 2018], the Secretary of Transportation shall promulgate regulations to implement the requirements of section 42302 of title 49, United States Code, as amended by this Act."

Aviation Consumer Advocate

Pub. L. 115–254, div. B, title IV, §424, Oct. 5, 2018, 132 Stat. 3337, provided that:

"(a) In General.—The Secretary of Transportation shall review aviation consumer complaints received that allege a violation of law and, as appropriate, pursue enforcement or corrective actions that would be in the public interest.

"(b) Considerations.—In considering which cases to pursue for enforcement or corrective action under subsection (a), the Secretary shall consider—

"(1) the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 (Public Law 99–435; 100 Stat. 1080);

"(2) unfair and deceptive practices by air carriers (including air ambulance operators), foreign air carriers, and ticket agents;

"(3) the terms and conditions agreed to between passengers and air carriers (including air ambulance operators), foreign air carriers, or ticket agents;

"(4) aviation consumer protection and tarmac delay contingency planning requirements for both airports and airlines;

"(5) protection of air ambulance consumers; and

"(6) any other applicable law.

"(c) Aviation Consumer Advocate.—

"(1) In general.—Within the Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the Department of Transportation, there shall be an Aviation Consumer Advocate.

"(2) Functions.—The Aviation Consumer Advocate shall—

"(A) assist consumers in resolving carrier service complaints filed with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division;

"(B) review the resolution by the Department of Transportation of carrier service complaints;

"(C) identify and recommend actions the Department can take to improve the enforcement of aviation consumer protection rules, protection of air ambulance consumers, and resolution of carrier service complaints; and

"(D) identify and recommend regulations and policies that can be amended to more effectively resolve carrier service complaints.

"(d) Annual Reports.—The Secretary, through the Aviation Consumer Advocate, shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress [Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives] an annual report summarizing the following:

"(1) The total number of annual complaints received by the Department, including the number of complaints by the name of each air carrier and foreign air carrier.

"(2) The total number of annual complaints by category of complaint.

"(3) The number of complaints referred in the preceding year for enforcement or corrective action by the Department.

"(4) Any recommendations under paragraphs (2)(C) and (2)(D) of subsection (c).

"(5) Such other data as the Aviation Consumer Advocate considers appropriate.

"(e) Sunset on Reporting Requirement.—The reporting requirement of subsection (d) shall terminate on September 30, 2023."

[For definition of "ticket agent" as used in section 424 of Pub. L. 115–254, set out above, see section 401 of Pub. L. 115–254, set out as a Definitions of Terms in Pub. L. 115–254 note under section 40101 of this title.]

DOT Airline Consumer Complaint Investigations

Pub. L. 112–95, title IV, §408, Feb. 14, 2012, 126 Stat. 87, provided that: "The Secretary of Transportation may investigate consumer complaints regarding—

"(1) flight cancellations;

"(2) compliance with Federal regulations concerning overbooking seats on flights;

"(3) lost, damaged, or delayed baggage, and difficulties with related airline claims procedures;

"(4) problems in obtaining refunds for unused or lost tickets or fare adjustments;

"(5) incorrect or incomplete information about fares, discount fare conditions and availability, overcharges, and fare increases;

"(6) the rights of passengers who hold frequent flyer miles or equivalent redeemable awards earned through customer-loyalty programs; and

"(7) deceptive or misleading advertising."

1 See References in Text note below.

§42303. Use of insecticides in passenger aircraft

(a) Information To Be Provided on the Internet.—The Secretary of Transportation shall establish, and make available to the general public, an Internet Web site that contains a listing of countries that may require an air carrier or foreign air carrier to treat an aircraft passenger cabin with insecticides prior to a flight in foreign air transportation to that country or to apply an aerosol insecticide in an aircraft cabin used for such a flight when the cabin is occupied with passengers.

(b) Required Disclosures.—An air carrier, foreign air carrier, or ticket agent selling, in the United States, a ticket for a flight in foreign air transportation to a country listed on the internet website established under subsection (a) shall—

(1) disclose, on its own internet website or through other means, that the destination country may require the air carrier or foreign air carrier to treat an aircraft passenger cabin with insecticides prior to the flight or to apply an aerosol insecticide in an aircraft cabin used for such a flight when the cabin is occupied with passengers; and

(2) refer the purchaser of the ticket to the internet website established under subsection (a) for additional information.

(Added Pub. L. 112–95, title IV, §415(a), Feb. 14, 2012, 126 Stat. 95; amended Pub. L. 115–254, div. B, title IV, §404, Oct. 5, 2018, 132 Stat. 3329.)

Amendments

2018—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 115–254 amended subsec. (b) generally. Prior to amendment, text read as follows: "An air carrier, foreign air carrier, or ticket agent selling, in the United States, a ticket for a flight in foreign air transportation to a country listed on the Internet Web site established under subsection (a) shall refer the purchaser of the ticket to the Internet Web site established under subsection (a) for additional information."

Effective Date

Requirements of this section to begin to apply 60 days after Feb. 14, 2012, except as otherwise provided, see section 415(c) of Pub. L. 112–95, set out as a note under section 42301 of this title.

§42304. Widespread disruptions

(a) General Requirements.—In the event of a widespread disruption, a covered air carrier shall immediately publish, via a prominent link on the air carrier's public internet website, a clear statement indicating whether, with respect to a passenger of the air carrier whose travel is interrupted as a result of the widespread disruption, the air carrier will—

(1) provide for hotel accommodations;

(2) arrange for ground transportation;

(3) provide meal vouchers;

(4) arrange for air transportation on another air carrier or foreign air carrier to the passenger's destination; and

(5) provide for sleeping facilities inside the airport terminal.


(b) Definitions.—In this section, the following definitions apply:

(1) Widespread disruption.—The term "widespread disruption" means, with respect to a covered air carrier, the interruption of all or the overwhelming majority of the air carrier's systemwide flight operations, including flight delays and cancellations, as the result of the failure of 1 or more computer systems or computer networks of the air carrier.

(2) Covered air carrier.—The term "covered air carrier" means an air carrier that provides scheduled passenger air transportation by operating an aircraft that as originally designed has a passenger capacity of 30 or more seats.


(c) Savings Provision.—Nothing in this section may be construed to modify, abridge, or repeal any obligation of an air carrier under section 42301.

(Added Pub. L. 115–254, div. B, title IV, §428(a), Oct. 5, 2018, 132 Stat. 3341.)