This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill extending authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, which would otherwise expire on July 15. The bill is expected to be approved by the Senate as well.
In addition to funding current FAA programs through September 30, 2017, the bill includes a number of provisions related to airport security and passenger rights. Among the most impactful:
- Requires airlines to refund checked-bag fees when luggage is lost or “unreasonably delayed”
- Orders airlines to ensure that children 13 years old or younger are seated together with an adult or older child
- Requires airlines and airports to review and upgrade best practices for accommodating disabled travelers
- Tasks the TSA with expanding enrollment in the PreCheck trusted-traveler program
- Pressures the TSA to reduce checkpoint wait times by optimizing deployment of security personnel
- Strengthens mental-health screening for pilots, “addressing a factor in the 2015 Germanwings Flight 9525 crash”
Notably absent from the bill is any plan to privatize the country’s air-traffic control system, a move strongly supported by the airlines and some legislators.
In all, the bill would be a small net positive for travelers, who can expect slightly shorter lines at security checkpoints and a refund when their checked bags are mishandled.
More from SmarterTravel:
- TripAdvisor Adds User Reviews to Flight Search
- Why United’s $412 Million Write Down Is Good for Flyers
- How NOT to Use Loyalty Points for PreCheck
After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.