[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 151 (Wednesday, August 6, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 45731-45732]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-18525]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Office of the Secretary

14 CFR Parts 234, 244, 250, 255, 256, 257, 259, and 399

[Docket No. DOT-OST-2014-0056]
RIN 2105-AE11


Transparency of Airline Ancillary Fees and Other Consumer 
Protection Issues

AGENCY: Office of the Secretary (OST), Department of Transportation 
(DOT).

ACTION: Extension of comment period on proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: This action extends the comment period for an NPRM on 
transparency of airline ancillary fees and other consumer protection 
issues that was published in the Federal Register on May 23, 2014. The 
Department of Transportation is extending the period for interested 
persons to submit comments on this rulemaking from August 21, 2014, to 
September 22, 2014. This extension is a result of a joint petition 
filed by a number of airline associations to extend the comment period 
for the proposal.

[[Page 45732]]


DATES: Comments must be received by September 22, 2014. Comments 
received after this date will be considered to the extent practicable.

ADDRESSES: You may file comments identified by the docket number DOT-
OST-2014-0056 by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., Room W12-140, Washington, DC 
20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building Ground Floor, Room 
W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., between 9:00a.m. and 5:00p.m. ET, 
Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays.
     Fax: (202) 493-2251.
    Instructions: You must include the agency name and docket number 
DOT-OST-2014-0056 or the Regulatory Identification Number, RIN No. 
2105-AE11, for the rulemaking at the beginning of your comment. All 
comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.
    Privacy Act: Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all 
comments received in any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment if submitted on behalf 
of an association, a business, a labor union, etc.). You may review 
DOT's complete Privacy Act statement in the Federal Register published 
on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-78), or you may visit http://Docketslnfo.dot.gov.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov or to the street 
address listed above. Follow the online instructions for accessing the 
docket.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kimberly Graber or Blane A. Workie, 
Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement and 
Proceedings, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. 
SE., Washington, DC 20590, 202-366-9342 (phone), 202-366-7152 (fax), 
Kimberly.graber@dot.gov or blane.workie@dot.gov (email).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On May 23, 2014, the Department published a 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on transparency of airline 
ancillary fees and other consumer protection issues, including 
clarifying and codifying the Department's interpretation of the 
statutory definition of ``ticket agent;'' expanding the pool of 
``reporting'' carriers; requiring enhanced reporting by mainline 
carriers for their domestic code-share partner operations; requiring 
large travel agents to adopt minimum customer service standards; 
codifying the statutory requirement that carriers and ticket agents 
disclose any airline code-share arrangements on their Web sites; and 
prohibiting unfair and deceptive practices such as undisclosed biasing 
in schedule and fare displays and post-purchase price increases. 
Additionally, this NPRM would correct drafting errors and make minor 
changes to the Department's second Enhancing Airline Passenger 
Protections rule to conform to guidance issued by the Department's 
Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings (Enforcement Office) 
regarding its interpretation of the rule. See 79 FR 29970 (May 23, 
2014). Comments on the matters proposed were to be received 90 days 
after publication of the NPRM, or by August 21, 2014.
    We received a joint petition for a 90-day extension of the comment 
period for this rulemaking by Airlines for America (A4A), the 
International Air Transportation Association (IATA), and the Regional 
Airline Association (RAA). According to this petition, the extension is 
appropriate because the NPRM proposes significant new regulations on 
U.S. and foreign carriers and ticket agents, in addition to requesting 
information and views on dozens of topics that could materially alter 
the proposal. The petitioners also state that the proposed rule would 
expand the regulated community by covering previously unregulated 
entities and commercial relationships. Further, the petitioners point 
out that the Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) accompanying the NPRM 
requests information on a number of proposals and alternatives and more 
time is needed to provide the Department with the extensive information 
it requests.
    We received four comments generally in support of this joint 
petition. Spirit Airlines supports the joint petition and its 
underlying rationale. Airline Tariff Publishing Company (ATPCO) also 
agrees with the petition particularly because of the complex technical 
questions raised by the NRPM in relation to implementing the proposal 
of enhancing transparency in airline ancillary fees. Open Allies for 
Airfare Transparency urges the Department not to prolong the adoption 
of a rule that would enhance airline pricing transparency but also 
recognizes the complexity of the proposals in this NPRM. Therefore, it 
supports a ``reasonable extension'' period of less than 90 days. 
Travelers United opposes any extension to the comment period for the 
proposal to enhance transparency of ancillary fees and states that this 
topic has been debated and commented for three years. It also opposes 
an extension to the comment period proposals related to reporting 
issues. Also recognizing the complexity of the NPRM, Travelers United 
supports a limited extension to the comment period for other topics 
such as codifying the definition of ticket agent, requiring large 
travel agents to adopt customer service standards, transparency of 
codeshare operations, and disclosure of biasing in schedule and fare 
displays.
    While we concur with the requests for an extension of the comment 
period, we believe that a 90-day extension would be excessive. We have 
decided to grant an extension of 30 days, or until September 22, 2014, 
for the public to comment on the NPRM. We believe this extension is 
appropriate in balancing the need for additional time for comments and 
the need to proceed expeditiously with this important rulemaking. We 
note that the proposal to enhance airline ancillary fee transparency, 
which is the proposal in this NPRM that involves the most technical 
complexities, was one of the proposals in the Department's 2010 
Enhancing Airline Passenger Protection rulemaking. In the final rule of 
that rulemaking, we deferred final action on this matter to a future 
rulemaking. Therefore, the interested parties have been on notice that 
we intended to further explore this topic in a subsequent rulemaking. 
We further note that with this additional 30 days we are granting here, 
interested parties will have total of 120 days to comment on the 
proposals, which we believe is adequate time for analysis and 
coordination regarding the proposals.
    Accordingly, the Department finds that good cause exists to extend 
the time for comments on the proposed rule from August 21, 2014, to 
September 22, 2014. We do not anticipate any further extension of the 
comment period for this rulemaking.

    Issued this 31st day of July, 2014, in Washington, DC.
Kathryn B. Thomson,
General Counsel, Office of Regulation and Enforcement, U.S. Department 
of Transportation.
[FR Doc. 2014-18525 Filed 8-5-14; 8:45 am]
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