Frequent fliers have a ritual that gives them superpowers when they fly. They know how to avoid long check-in lines, and they know where to sit on different size planes. They usually like an aisle seat, so they can make a quick get-a-way before the rookies try to get off the plane. This year may be the year for unprecedented flight cancelations, silly delays, and seats that only a small child can love.Those issues are not going away in 2018, but they will seem like business as usual when the airlines add more checked-baggage fees. Plus, an indecisive Transportation Department, and a drastic drop in regulatory enforcement actions against airlines that like to push the envelope will put 2018 in a league of its own. In 2017, there were only 18 consent orders that demand payment for illegal civil airline actions. In 2016, that number was 29. And in terms of dollars, airline penalties dropped by more than $3.2 million in 2017.
The chairman of Travelers United, Charles Leocha, thinks 2018 will be another “look the other way” year for airline regulators. That’s not good news for people who experience the travel abuse that runs rampant in the airline industry, according to Leocha. Just when air travelers thought Trump was not messing with airline rules, a “put this on the back burner,” attitude in Congress, is telling the airlines they don’t have to allow families to sit together. And the regulation that would make airlines refund checked-baggage fees when the airlines send bags to that lost bag netherworld, is sitting under piles of “things-to-do” on Capitol Hill.
The bottom line is the Trump administration will not regulate the airline industry the way it should, but the industry will try to squeeze every penny out of their customers. And according to a Washington Post article, the federal government will also take the existing rules apart in 2018. The government calls those rules “command-and-control regulations. The airline industry is already trying to get out of two important consumer protection rules. Plus, the industry is asking regulators to throw out the 24-hour refund rule as well as the “full fare” regulation that requires airlines to put a ticket price in advertising campaigns that includes all the fees and taxes. If the airlines are successful, passengers will have a hard time determining the actual ticket cost. And it may be even harder to get the airlines to reimburse passengers, or cover their expenses when flights are hours late.