49 U.S. Code CHAPTER 423— PASSENGER AIR SERVICE IMPROVEMENTS

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Amendments

2018—Pub. 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)
“(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.