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ASTA assists in extending Section 145 to ensure consumers guaranteed protection

Travelers concerned about flying on bankrupt airlines over the holidays can…

Travelers concerned about flying on bankrupt airlines over the holidays can be relieved to know that when the President signed the Transportation-Treasury Appropriations bill, H.R. 3058, on Nov. 30, he also extended Section 145 for one year. Section 145 states that airline passengers holding tickets from a bankrupt carrier for a particular route are entitled to transportation on a space-available basis on any airline serving that route as long as alternate travel plans are made within 60 days after the bankrupt airline suspends operations. Additionally, the maximum fee that an airline can charge for providing standby transportation is not to exceed $50 each way.

ASTA found a champion in Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), chair of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation who supported extension language. Senator Burns offered and the Senate adopted his Amendment 2103 extending Section 145 to Nov. 30, 2006. Throughout the legislative process, ASTA wrote letters to key Senate and House appropriators to maintain the Burns’ Amendment in the transportation spending bill and activated its grassroots to contact their elected officials ensuring its passage. Also assisting with Capitol Hill efforts were the Business Travel Coalition (BTC) and the National Tour Association (NTA).

“Both consumers and travel agents will benefit from this law, and ASTA is proud of all its members who lobbied to get this passed. ASTA would also like to thank Sen. Burns for his tireless effort and continued support in striving to get Section 145 approved,” said Kathryn W. Sudeikis, CTC, ASTA president and CEO. “Consumer trust is nothing to gamble with so it’s critical that everyone associated with air travel have confidence in the system. Agents and travelers alike need assurance that efforts will be made to provide consumers with alternate transportation in the event that any of the financially distressed carriers were to actually cease operation.”

“It’s just a good, common sense provision,” said Sen. Conrad Burns. “If you buy a ticket on a given airline to Disneyland from Billings, Mont. and that airline liquidates and cancels all service while you’re enjoying your vacation, you could be stuck in Los Angeles. With my amendment in place, instead of buying a last minute ticket on another air carrier, you can fly stand-by on any air-carrier that serves that route for $50 dollars each way.”

The following rules apply to Section 145 Travel:

  • The maximum fee that an airline can charge is $50 each way. International departure fees may be added in addition to the $50 fee

  • Section 145 does not apply to international-flag airlines or charter airlines

  • Frequent flyer tickets apply

  • Except for ticketed travel within the first three days after cessation, consumers must make alternate travel plans (i.e., placement on a standby list) with an applicable airline within 60 days of cessation or on or before the date of travel shown on the original ticket, depending on which comes first

  • Consumers with a ticket for travel within three days of cessation have seven days to make alternate arrangements with an applicable airline

  • An airline is required, at a minimum, to transport consumers on a space-available basis on the date of travel shown on their original ticket, or as soon thereafter as space is available

  • If the original ticket was for direct service, an alternate carrier cannot refuse to carry a consumer if it only offers connections

  • Alternate airports are allowed, provided that the airports are considered reasonable alternate airports to the original ticketed itinerary

Each year ASTA lobbies hard for the extension of Section 145 and is working to see that the law is permanently extended.