The U.S. Senate passed its version of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill on Tuesday that included several passenger-friendly initiatives.
The legislation, which still needs to be reconciled with the House version of the bill, was passed by the Senate 95 to 3. While it included several consumer-oriented provisions, it did not address the privatization of the air traffic control system like the version in the House.
“This bipartisan legislation takes several important steps to protect passengers’ safety and security and makes air travel a little easier along the way,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) who led the committee that drafted the FAA authorization bill. “The traveling public will be best served once this bill makes its way to the president’s desk and is signed into law.”
Here’s a few of the initiatives included in the Senate’s bill:
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▪ Airlines will be required to refund passenger’s bag fees if their luggage is lost or delayed by more than six hours after their domestic flight arrived or 12 hours after their international flight arrived.
▪ Airlines will also have to refund fees for seat assignments and early boarding if the passenger does not receive the services.
▪ Bans the use of cell phone calls on flights.
▪ Doubles the number of TSA teams from 30 to 60 to patrol non-checkpoint areas such as baggage claim or check-in areas.
▪ Requires airlines to install a second barrier, such as a mesh gate, between the cockpit and the seating area for when pilots open the cockpit door.
It did not include a proposal from New York senator Charles Schumer that would have set minimum standards for the distance between airline seats.
The Senate bill also did not address reforming the air traffic control system whereas the House version takes the air traffic control system away from government control and places it with a nonprofit organization run by a board that would include representatives from airlines.