Travel is About to Get Easier – In the Air and On the Ground

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Federal rules may force airlines to make travel easier, while a new survey may persuade hotel chains to provide nicer rooms.

Whether you’re a vacationer or a business traveler, life on the road and in the air may soon come with fewer hassles.

This week, the Federal Aviation Administration completed another step in its approval process for new rules that protect airline passengers. Those rules would…

  • Increase compensation for passengers involuntarily bumped from flights.
  • Allow passengers to make and cancel reservations within 24 hours without penalty.
  • Require full and prominently displayed disclosure of baggage fees, as well as refunds and expense reimbursement when bags are not delivered on time.
  • Require fair price advertising.
  • Prohibit price increases after a ticket is purchased.
  • Mandate timely notice of flight status changes.

The FAA had asked for public comment on these proposed rules. It stopped accepting them on Monday. Now the FAA will review those comments before deciding what to do. No timeline was announced. But given the FAA has already tightened regulations on airlines this year – announcing in April that airlines must allow passengers off a plane that’s delayed for more than three hours – it’s likely at least some of these new rules will pass.

Meanwhile, a new national survey by the Hilton hotel chain confirms what many travelers already know: “Nearly half of leisure travelers today bring work materials, such as a laptop computer, cell phone or pager with them on vacation.”

But even though the lines between vacation and business travel are blurring – more than half the travelers surveyed said they combined a work trip with a leisure trip – travelers have a contrary expectation. “More than 65 percent of the survey respondents prefer to stay in a hotel that has a home-like feel,” the survey stated.

So what’s that mean for you? Hotel chains are taking notice and revamping their rooms. Hilton heeded its own advice and created Homewood Suites, which feature kitchens and access to a washer and dryer. This week, Radisson Hotels announced a “3 Hour Express Laundry” service and a free “Grab & Run” breakfast available in the lobby. Other hotels are discounting or offering for free its “business-class” services of free high-speed Internet access and upgraded room amenities. Best advice? Ask for them when you book your room.

Stacy Johnson

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