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  • 🤔 My opinion on the new U.S. passenger protections

🤔 My opinion on the new U.S. passenger protections

Plus, Hyatt is getting creative with some new targeted offers that you'll want to know about

Estimated read time: 5 minutes and 18 seconds

🚂 Calling all train fans: There’s a new luxury train in Vietnam that offers STUNNING views and some amazing seats… definitely something to check out next time you’re in SE Asia.

Good morning, happy Friday, and welcome back to Daily Drop!

Today’s newsletter is a bit tedious, but I think you’ll be happy to learn about some new regulations that apply to U.S. travelers and airlines.

Let’s jump in:

✈️ New U.S. passenger protections… not great

As I’m sure many of you have heard, there are some new rules in place from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT).

These new rules are mainly geared toward making some airline policies more transparent and making refunds easier when things go wrong (which is often in the U.S.).

And while this sounds like a great development, I actually am not very happy about it…

So let’s talk about it.

A passenger in an airline seat graphic with a blue background

I encourage you to read the full press release on the DoT website, but I’ll give you a rough rundown of the situation.

First, let me give you a VERY simple overview of what has changed:

  1. Airlines will be required to offer automatic refunds when certain delays or cancellations occur and when passengers don’t get what they paid for.

  2. Airlines (and other booking sites) will need to disclose extra fees (like for bags, etc.) earlier in the booking process.

  3. Some terms (like “significant delay”) are now specifically defined, which is nice.

Now, let’s go through those one by one, starting with that last point.

Definitions

In the past, airlines have always been required to provide a refund or travel credit if a flight is “significantly delayed.”

The only problem was that each airline could decide what a “significant delay” was… 😬

So, naturally, it varied widely from two hours to 24 hours.

Now, however, the definition is clear. Any of the following constitutes a “significant delay”:

  • If a domestic flight is delayed by three hours or more

  • If an international flight is delayed by six hours or more

  • If an extra stop is added to what was previously a nonstop flight

  • If the arrival airport changes on a rebooked flight

Look… it’s great that they’ve outlined this in detail… but did they need to set the bar that low…?

For example, Delta currently offers refunds if a flight (domestic OR international) is delayed by just two hours.

Delta's current refund policy

Delta is already pretty generous…

The mandatory refund threshold is significantly lower than what some major airlines already offer, which feels weird, considering this legislation is geared toward holding airlines more accountable.

Speaking of refunds, let’s talk about that.

Refunds will now be faster and more clear

This is the part that really upsets me…

With these new rules, here are some of the things that will now be implemented:

  • Airlines will have a shorter timeframe to provide refunds

  • Refunds will be triggered automatically for significant delays of six hours or more

  • Airlines will be required to disclose when a refund is available BEFORE offering a travel credit as an alternative

That last point is great. Airlines will do whatever they can to avoid paying out cold, hard cash.

Usually, this means pressuring customers into accepting a travel credit instead of cash… The fact that passengers will be more aware of their options is great.

But here’s the main issue with this new policy:

If your flight is delayed by six hours, more people don’t want a refund. They want to get to their damn destination (pardon my English)…

Let’s say you found a great deal on a flight to London like this one. 👇

Sample flight from New York to London for $110

First of all… that’s amazing, and somebody should go buy that flight right now…

Anyway, if your flight is delayed and the airline shells out a refund without needing to rebook you, that doesn’t necessarily help you.

You’ll be stuck in two situations:

  1. You have to book a last-minute flight to London, which will certainly be significantly more expensive than what you paid.

  2. You must cancel your whole trip, which will likely cost you a lot of money for hotels, other flights, activities, etc…

Basically, you’re screwed in most cases.

In other parts of the world, passengers have way more rights, and I think it’s time the U.S. got with the program.

For example, even in Canada, passengers are entitled to cash compensation of up to $1,000 (in addition to refunds and rebooking) when things go wrong.

Canada Passenger Rights

Canada’s passenger rights are great

Many of you also know about EU261, the rule that requires airlines to compensate passengers for delayed and canceled flights.

You can read more about that here if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

These regulations account for the fact that people will likely incur extra expenses in the event of a delay and incentivize airlines to perform better.

With the rules in the U.S., airlines might even come out further ahead than they previously did, which feels counterproductive.

Anyway, here are a couple of other quick highlights that are on the positive side:

  • If you pay for things like Wi-Fi, seats, etc., and don’t get what you paid for, you will be refunded.

  • If your bags are significantly delayed, you will be entitled to a refund for bag fees paid (though it won’t be automatic).

  • Airlines and websites will be required to disclose “hidden” fees more prominently now, though this won’t take effect for a couple of years… 🤦‍♂️

Anyway, here’s the bottom line:

These new rules feel confusing at best and completely counterproductive at worst.

I’m happy to see a few aspects of this that will certainly benefit travelers, but it feels like the “big” changes missed the mark.

So to the U.S. government, I say:

Other countries and governments have figured out this problem already… so just do what they do, please. 👍

🏨 Hyatt is sending out more targeted offers

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to something we can ALL agree is VERY good:

Targeted offers from Hyatt to give us more points and elite nights.

Hyatt promotion banner

A few weeks ago, I told you about an offer I received from Hyatt to get 20% of my points rebated from stays.

My offer had a three-month window and allowed for a maximum return of 30,000 points, which is fantastic.

Hyatt Promo to earn 20% points rebated

Well, there are a couple of other offers floating around, too, including:

  • Earn 3,000 bonus points for every five nights at Hyatt hotels

  • Earn double elite night credits

  • Get a rebate for a percentage of your points (like mine)

I think all of these versions of the offer are fantastic, but the “double elite night credits” might be the most valuable.

For example, you’d only need to stay 15 nights to earn Explorist elite status, hit a couple of milestone rewards, and earn a Category 1-4 Free Night Award.

Hyatt 30-night milestone

The nice part about Hyatt promos is that award nights also count toward them.

So for the offer to earn 3,000 points for every five nights, it’s like getting some of your points back in your pocket.

💡 Pro tip: If you get one of the offers to rebate points, you can stretch the 75,000-point welcome offer of the [[ chase-sapphire-preferred-card.name ]] even further by transferring your points to Hyatt.

Anyway, this is great.

I encourage you all to check your Hyatt accounts (my offer popped up when I was on my app profile page) and register for the offer to join in the fun.

Current Transfer Bonuses

  • [Targeted] 40% bonus from MR Points to Hilton (ends May 31st)

  • 30% bonus from MR Points to Virgin Atlantic (ends May 31st)

  • 30% bonus from ThankYou Points to Qatar Airways (ends May 31st)

  • 20% bonus from MR Points to Aeromexico (ends May 31st)

  • 30% bonus from UR Points to Virgin Atlantic (ends June 15th)

  • 40% bonus from UR Points to Marriott Bonvoy (ends June 15th)

  • 50% bonus from ThankYou Points to Turkish Airlines (ends June 15th)

  • PLUS, there are 12 cards with elevated offers right now!

A 10-hour layover in Atlanta? YUCK.

A group of new travel friends to give you the best tips on how to spend it? YAY!

If you want this same type of pick-me-up, come and join us in our community Facebook group, the Daily Drop Lounge ☺️

Phew, that was a doozy, eh?

I am pretty disappointed in these new regulations, and I hope that the U.S. can someday join Canada and the E.U. in offering more robust passenger protections.

Still, if you are experiencing a delay or cancellation, it’s important to know how this all works and what you are entitled to… so I hope today helped!

Have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you first thing on Monday morning.

Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

7.2575° S, 112.7521° E