Summary: S.319 — 107th Congress (2001-2002)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to Senate with amendment(s) (04/26/2001)

Airline Customer Service Improvement Act - Directs the Secretary of Transportation to increase Department of Transportation (DOT) resources allocated to providing: (1) airline passenger consumer protection and related services; and (2) oversight and enforcement of laws and regulations that provide protection for air travelers. Directs the Secretary to report to specified congressional committees on measures taken, together with a request for additional funds, if necessary, to carry out such section.

(Sec. 3) Amends Federal aviation law to require each large air carrier to incorporate in its contract of carriage: (1) the provisions of the Airline Customer Service Commitment executed by the Air Transport Association on June 17, 1999; and (2) its customer service plan developed in accordance with the Commitment to the extent that it is more specific or broader.

(Sec. 4) Requires each large air carrier to institute specified practices, among them to: (1) provide its customers at an airport and on board an aircraft, in a timely, reasonable, and truthful manner, the best information available regarding a delay, cancellation, or diversion affecting a customer's flight (including its cause, and for a delayed flight, the air carrier's best estimate of the departure time); (2) offer the lowest fare available for which a customer is eligible at the air carrier's ticket offices and airport ticket service counters for the date, flight, and class of service requested; (3) notify customers that lower fares may be available on the Internet and through other distribution systems when quoting the lowest fare available to passengers; (4) disclose, without being requested, the on-time performance and cancellation rate for a chronically-delayed or canceled flight whenever a customer makes a reservation or purchases a ticket; (5) establish a plan with respect to passengers who must unexpectedly remain overnight during a trip due to flight delays, cancellations, or diversions; (6) establish a customer service quality assurance and performance measurement system, as well as an internal audit system to measure compliance with commitments; (7) establish realistic targets for reducing chronically delayed and chronically canceled flights; (8) establish realistic performance goals for reducing the number of mishandled bags, and a toll-free telephone number that passengers may use to check on the status of checked baggage that was not delivered on arrival at the passenger's destination; (9) monitor its efforts to improve services provided to passengers with disabilities and special needs; and (10) if it has a frequent flyer program, make available to the public a comprehensive report of frequent flyer redemption information in its customer literature and annual reports.

Directs the Secretary to monitor and enforce large air carrier compliance with this Act.

(Sec. 5) Requires each large air carrier to report to the Secretary, and the Secretary to report to Congress, on implementation of the obligations imposed by this Act.

(Sec. 6) Provides for improved DOT statistics with respect to missing passenger baggage and chronically delayed or chronically canceled flights.

(Sec. 7) Requires the Secretary to initiate a rulemaking to amend DOT regulations to: (1) consider establishing a uniform check-in deadline and to require air carriers to disclose their policies on how such deadlines apply to passengers making connections; and (2) increase the maximum amount of denied boarding compensation for passengers denied boarding involuntarily (bumped).

(Sec. 8) Directs the Secretary to: (1) study the incidents of damage to equipment of passengers with disabilities attributable to air carriers' treatment of such equipment; and (2) review DOT regulations with respect to such treatment and make any appropriate modifications to protect the consumer.

(Sec. 10) Directs the Secretary to prescribe regulations to establish minimum standards for resuscitation, emergency medical, and first-aid equipment and supplies to be carried on board an aircraft operated by an air carrier that is capable of carrying at least 30 passengers.