July 23, 2009 | Deleted Users Posts SEC. 401. AIRLINE CUSTOMER SERVICE COMMITMENT.(a) In General- Chapter 417 is amended by adding at the end the following:`SUBCHAPTER IV–AIRLINE CUSTOMER SERVICE`Sec. 41781. Air carrier and airport contingency plans for long on-board tarmac delays`(a) Definition of Tarmac Delay- The term `tarmac delay’ means the holding of an aircraft on the ground before taking off or after landing with no opportunity for its passengers to deplane.`(b) Submission of Air Carrier and Airport Plans- Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act, each air carrier and airport operator shall submit, in accordance with the requirements under this section, a proposed contingency plan to the Secretary of Transportation for review and approval.`(c) Minimum Standards- The Secretary of Transportation shall establish minimum standards for elements in contingency plans required to be submitted under this section to ensure that such plans effectively address long on-board tarmac delays and provide for the health and safety of passengers and crew.`(d) Air Carrier Plans- The plan shall require each air carrier to implement at a minimum the following:`(1) PROVISION OF ESSENTIAL SERVICES- Each air carrier shall provide for the essential needs of passengers on board an aircraft at an airport in any case in which the departure of a flight is delayed or disembarkation of passengers on an arriving flight that has landed is substantially delayed, including–`(A) adequate food and potable water;`(B) adequate restroom facilities;`(C) cabin ventilation and comfortable cabin temperatures; and`(D) access to necessary medical treatment.`(2) RIGHT TO DEPLANE-`(A) IN GENERAL- Each air carrier shall submit a proposed contingency plan to the Secretary of Transportation that identifies a clear time frame under which passengers would be permitted to deplane a delayed aircraft. After the Secretary has reviewed and approved the proposed plan, the air carrier shall make the plan available to the public.`(B) DELAYS-`(i) IN GENERAL- As part of the plan, except as provided under clause (iii), an air carrier shall provide passengers with the option of deplaning and returning to the terminal at which such deplaning could be safely completed, or deplaning at the terminal if–`(I) 3 hours have elapsed after passengers have boarded the aircraft, the aircraft doors are closed, and the aircraft has not departed; or`(II) 3 hours have elapsed after the aircraft has landed and the passengers on the aircraft have been unable to deplane.`(ii) FREQUENCY- The option described in clause (i) shall be offered to passengers at a minimum not less often than once during each successive 3-hour period that the plane remains on the ground.`(iii) EXCEPTIONS- This subparagraph shall not apply if–`(I) the pilot of such aircraft reasonably determines that the aircraft will depart or be unloaded at the terminal not later than 30 minutes after the 3 hour delay; or`(II) the pilot of such aircraft reasonably determines that permitting a passenger to deplane would jeopardize passenger safety or security.`(C) APPLICATION TO DIVERTED FLIGHTS- This section applies to aircraft without regard to whether they have been diverted to an airport other than the original destination.`(D) REPORTS- Not later than 30 days after any flight experiences a tarmac delay lasting at least 3 hours, the air carrier responsible for such flight shall submit a written description of the incident and its resolution to the Aviation Consumer Protection Office of the Department of Transportation.`(e) Airport Plans- Each airport operator shall submit a proposed contingency plan under subsection (b) that contains a description of–`(1) how the airport operator will provide for the deplanement of passengers following a long tarmac delay; and`(2) how, to the maximum extent practicable, the airport operator will provide for the sharing of facilities and make gates available at the airport for use by aircraft experiencing such delays.`(f) Updates- The Secretary shall require periodic reviews and updates of the plans as necessary.`(g) Approval-`(1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 6 months after the date of the enactment of this section, the Secretary of Transportation shall–`(A) review the initial contingency plans submitted under subsection (b); and`(B) approve plans that closely adhere to the standards described in subsections (d) or (e), whichever is applicable.`(2) UPDATES- Not later than 60 days after the submission of an update under subsection (f) or an initial contingency plan by a new air carrier or airport, the Secretary shall–`(A) review the plan; and`(B) approve the plan if it closely adheres to the standards described in subsections (d) or (e), whichever is applicable.`(h) Civil Penalties- The Secretary may assess a civil penalty under section 46301 against any air carrier or airport operator that does not submit, obtain approval of, or adhere to a contingency plan submitted under this section.`(i) Public Access- Each air carrier and airport operator required to submit a contingency plan under this section shall ensure public access to an approved plan under this section by–`(1) including the plan on the Internet Web site of the carrier or airport; or`(2) disseminating the plan by other means, as determined by the Secretary.`Sec. 41782. Air passenger complaints hotline and information`(a) Air Passenger Complaints Hotline Telephone Number- The Secretary of Transportation shall establish a consumer complaints hotline telephone number for the use of air passengers.`(b) Public Notice- The Secretary shall notify the public of the telephone number established under subsection (a).`(c) Authorization of Appropriations- There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out this section, which sums shall remain available until expended.’.(b) Conforming Amendment- The table of contents for chapter 417 is amended by adding at the end the following:`subchapter iv–airline customer service`41781. Air carrier and airport contingency plans for long on-board tarmac delays.`41782. Air passenger complaints hotline and information.’.SEC. 402. PUBLICATION OF CUSTOMER SERVICE DATA AND FLIGHT DELAY HISTORY.(a) In General- Section 41722 is amended by adding at the end the following:`(f) Chronically Delayed Flights-`(1) PUBLICATION OF LIST OF FLIGHTS- Each air carrier holding a certificate issued under section 41102 that conducts scheduled passenger air transportation shall, on a monthly basis–`(A) publish and update on the Internet website of the air carrier a list of chronically delayed flights operated by such air carrier; and`(B) share such list with each entity that is authorized to book passenger air transportation for such air carrier for inclusion on the Internet website of such entity.`(2) DISCLOSURE TO CUSTOMERS WHEN PURCHASING TICKETS- For each individual who books passenger air transportation on the Internet website of an air carrier, or the Internet website of an entity that is authorized to book passenger air transportation for an air carrier, for any flight for which data is reported to the Department of Transportation under part 234 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, such air carrier or entity, as the case may be, shall prominently disclose to such individual, before such individual makes such booking, the following:`(A) The on-time performance for the flight if the flight is a chronically delayed flight.`(B) The cancellation rate for the flight if the flight is a chronically canceled flight.`(3) DEFINITIONS- In this subsection:`(A) CHRONICALLY DELAYED FLIGHT- The term `chronically delayed flight’ means a regularly scheduled flight that has failed to arrive on time (as such t erm is defined in section 234.2 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations) at least 40 percent of the time during the most recent 3-month period for which data is available.`(B) CHRONICALLY CANCELED FLIGHT- The term `chronically canceled flight’ means a regularly scheduled flight at least 30 percent of the departures of which have been canceled during the most recent 3-month period for which data is available.’.(b) Effective Date- The amendment made by subsection (a) shall take effect 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act.SEC. 403. EXPANSION OF DOT AIRLINE CONSUMER COMPLAINT INVESTIGATIONS.(a) IN GENERAL- Subject to the availability of appropriations, the Secretary of Transportation shall investigate consumer complaints regarding–(1) flight cancellations;(2) compliance with Federal regulations concerning overbooking seats 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 flier miles, or equivalent redeemable awards earned through customer-loyalty programs; and(7) deceptive or misleading advertising.(b) BUDGET NEEDS REPORT- The Secretary shall provide, as an annex to its annual budget request, an estimate of resources which would have been sufficient to investigate all such claims the Department of Transportation received in the previous fiscal year. The annex shall be transmitted to the Congress when the President submits the budget of the United States to the Congress under section 1105 of title 31, United States Code.SEC. 404. ESTABLISHMENT OF ADVISORY COMMITTEE FOR AVIATION CONSUMER PROTECTION.(a) IN GENERAL- The Secretary of Transportation shall establish an advisory committee for aviation consumer protection to advise the Secretary in carrying out airline customer service improvements, including those required by subchapter IV of chapter 417 of title 49, United States Code.(b) MEMBERSHIP- The Secretary shall appoint members of the advisory committee comprised of one representative each of–(1) air carriers;(2) airport operators;(3) State or local governments who has expertise in consumer protection matters; and(4) a nonprofit public interest group who has 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 to establish additional aviation consumer protection programs, if needed.(g) REPORT- Not later than February 1 of each of the first 2 calendar years beginning after the date of enactment of this Act, 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.SEC. 405. DISCLOSURE OF PASSENGER FEES.(a) IN GENERAL- Within 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall complete a rulemaking that requires each air carrier operating in the United States under part 121 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to make available to the public and to the Secretary a list of all passenger fees and charges (other than airfare) that may be imposed by the air carrier, including fees for–(1) checked baggage or oversized or heavy baggage;(2) meals, beverages, or other refreshments;(3) seats in exit rows, seats with additional space, or other preferred seats in any given class of travel;(4) purchasing tickets from an airline ticket agent or a travel agency; or(5) any other good, service, or amenity provided by the air carrier, as required by the Secretary.(b) PUBLICATION; UPDATES- In order to ensure that the fee information required by subsection (a) is both current and widely available to the travelling public, the Secretary–(1) may require an air carrier to make such information on any public website maintained by an air carrier, to make such information available to travel agencies, and to notify passengers of the availability of such information when advertising airfares; and(2) shall require air carriers to update the information as necessary, but no less frequently than every 90 days unless there has been no increase in the amount or type of fees shown in the most recent publication.