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Cornell eRulemaking Initiative Plays Important Role in Airline Passenger Bill of Rights

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced new airline passenger protections requiring airlines to reimburse passengers for bag fees if their bags are lost, provide greater compensation to customers who have been bumped from flights, disclose hidden fees, and expand the ban on lengthy tarmac delays.

The voices of airline passengers were heard, in part because of the opportunity they had to register their comments via Cornell eRulemaking Initiative's (CeRI) Regulation Room. CeRI and The Department of Transportation (DOT) have partnered in an effort to give citizens the opportunity to weigh in on rules that impact them. CeRI's Regulation Room has given them a voice; an opportunity to be heard.

"Last week, I was proud to announce new airline passenger protections that will help ensure people are treated fairly when they fly. I'm also proud of the process we used to get there," said Secretary LaHood. "The partnership between the U.S. Department of Transportation and Cornell eRulemaking Initiative on RegulationRoom.org allowed for a high level of public participation throughout the rulemaking process and helped make government more easily accessible to the public."

Many of the commenters on the Regulation Room site said that they believed the airlines' hidden fees amounted to a "bait and switch." Commenters were tired of having little power as airline passengers. Regulation Room contributed a summary of comments and public discussion and DOT incorporated these comments into the final rule.

"This is an excellent example of how citizens can participate in rulemaking and really make a difference," said CeRI director and Cornell Law School professor, Cynthia Farina. "Not only were their voices heard, but their comments were incorporated into the final rule. The partnership between DOT and CeRI has given voice to those who may previously have thought they couldn't impact rulemaking outcomes. Because of our partnership their opinions were heard and taken into account in the final rule."