Regulation Round Up: The Latest News in Business Travel

Some big changes are happening around the world in travel regulations. January is a busy month for lawmakers and agencies enforcing new legislation intended to protect consumers and provide more transparency in the air and on the ground.

Concur has rounded-up the most important stories of the month that could affect your business travel and expense reporting:

New airfare advertising

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will begin enforcing new rules for airfare advertisement starting January 26. “Full fare advertising” will include all government taxes, airport surcharges, as well as security and airline fees in the advertised price – a big change from the current practice of advertising only the baseline fare.

The result for business travelers will be some initial sticker shock earlier in the booking process. Fares may not necessarily go up – they will just be displayed differently. Airlines will now list all ancillary fees up front, as well as domestic and international taxes, which can account for up to 20 percent of the ticket price.

Upfront baggage fees and notifications

The DOT is also enforcing new baggage rules that require carriers to show customers how much checked luggage would cost at the time of booking, instead of at check-in. The idea is to prevent consumers from hunting for this information in the fine print or on airline websites.

New requirements also allow customers to book at least a week in advance and hold that reservation for 24 hours without payment; cancel that held reservation without penalty; and notify fliers of any flight cancellations, delays or diversions within 30 minutes of a schedule change.

These changes went into effect January 24.One important thing for corporate travel managers to note about the new DOT baggage fee disclosure rules … they do not apply to “online booking systems” that are closed to the “general public.”

Global Entry Program expands

On January 19, President Obama announced a decision to make the Global Entry Program permanent. The program is run by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency and allows low-risk, pre-approved passengers to check-in at kiosks upon arrival in the U.S. The program is intended for frequent international travelers, though there is no minimum number of trips required for eligibility.

As a domestic offshoot of the program, the Transportation Security Administration is expanding its trial “Precheck” security screenings for flights within the United States. Frequent fliers enrolled in TSA’s Precheck Program receive a special barcode on the back of their boarding passes that indicates expedited screening to agents.

At this time, airlines must extend an invitation to participate in the Precheck Program to frequent fliers who meet certain guidelines. However, fliers can apply individually with a $100 fee online at www.globalentry.gov.

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