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Department of Transportation Passenger Protection Rules

Not applicable

The second phase of the Department of Transportation’s Passenger Protection Regulations Rule #2 goes into effect for all airlines on January 24 for most provisions and on January 26 for the Full Fare Advertising provision.  A Team of Employees from Southwest’s Customer Relations/Rapid Rewards, Technology, Marketing, Ground Operations, and Legal departments have worked diligently to ensure compliance for both Southwest and AirTran.  Below are highlights of the new regulations, and we’ve also created a list of frequently asked questions about the new regulations, Southwest FAQ or AirTran FAQ


Effective January 24:

Flight Status Notification—If a flight’s status changes by 30 or more minutes or the flight is cancelled, Airlines must inform Customers within 30 minutes of that change.

  • Applies to our Automated Outbound Messaging (AOM), Flight Status Notifications sign up service, and Flight Status Messaging on 
  • Applies to airport displays (FIDS), Gate announcements, and announcements onboard the aircraft during tarmac delays for both Southwest and AirTran. 
  • For enhanced Customer Service in the airport, our Customer Service Agents (CSAs) will receive the flight status information via their usual channels 10 minutes prior to Customer notifications for both airlines. 

Cancel Reservations within 24 hours without Penalty—An airline must either allow a Customer to cancel a ticketed reservation within 24 hours of booking without penalty or allow the Customer to hold a reservation for 24 hours without being ticketed with no increase in fare.


  • This rule does not change what we are currently doing. As has been Southwest’s since 2000, if a Customer cancels a reservation within 24 hours of original booking/ticketing, a refund is automatically processed to the original form of payment.  AirTran’s former policy stated the Customer had to cancel within four hours, and we’ll make the change to 24 hours to comply with the new regulation for AirTran. 


Effective January 26:


Full Fare Advertising—Air fares that are advertised, verbally quoted, or displayed online must now also include all government-imposed taxes and fees that an airline collects for various government agencies.  These government taxes and fees include the segment fee of $3.80 per take off and landing, Passenger Facility Charge of up to $18 roundtrip, and September 11th Security Fee of up to $10 roundtrip for travel within or from the U.S.  For International travel, a variety of additional fees, in some cases close to $100, must also be included in the advertised air fare.  This does not include ancillary fees charged by some airlines (i.e. checking a bag).


  • In the past, fares displayed in our advertising and on and included the Base Fare plus a 7.5% federal excise tax.  The additional government-imposed taxes and fees were shown separately from the fare in advertising and added to the total fare at the time the reservation was priced.
  • With the new regulation, fares will include the Base Fare plus the 7.5% excise tax, plus all additional government-imposed taxes and fees that we collect and distribute to various government agencies.
  • The fare amount with all government-imposed taxes and fees included creates various dollar amounts that are difficult to use in advertising efforts; therefore we’ve decided to round up our fares to the nearest dollar for display purposes only.  The rounded up fare amount will be more than what a Customer will actually pay when booking the ticket – the cost variant between the displayed fare versus the booked fare could be up to 99 cents.
  • At first glance, airline fares will “look” higher after the implementation of these provisions, but that is only because of the added taxes and fees that will now be included on the front end as opposed to the back end.  We did not increase our air fares on Southwest or AirTran. 

Full Fare Advertising and Rapid Rewards—The new Full Fare Advertising will not change how points are calculated or redeemed. 


  • In the Southwest Rapid Rewards program, points are calculated from the Base Fare plus the 7.5% excise tax, which, prior to this new regulation, was also the fare that was advertised/displayed. 
  • Points will still be calculated the same way, Base Fare plus excise tax.
  • Flights will still be redeemed the same way, and the Customer will still have to pay the applicable September 11th Security Fee of up to $10.
  • Points were never earned on the government-imposed taxes or fees paid in conjunction with our air fare.
Explorer C
Kudos to the government for forcing Southwest (and other airlines) to do the right thing, since they clearly weren't willing to themselves. It was beyond insane that Southwest had the audacity to refuse to refund the EBCI fee for a cancelled flight, or when a late originating flight caused a passenger to miss a connecting flight. I'm glad the government is forcing you to do so now. I only wish you'd had the ethical sense to do it on your own in the first place.
Explorer C
will there ever be direct flights out of memphis without going through atlanta??? bh
Explorer C
Southwest is so much better about how it has advertised fares than Allegiant or Spirit with their large fees for buying flight online or by telephone.
Explorer C
24 Jan 2012 REASON FOR THE CHANGE: Does it hurt consumers to know how much they pay in tax? NO. Does it make it harder for the government to consistently raise taxes and fees if consumers can see and become aware of those separate costs? YES. GOVERNMENT SOLUTION: Force the airlines and travel sites to hide taxes and fees in the airfare cost so that the GOVERNMENT can consistently assess higher and higher taxes & fees without public awareness. Anyone know of a web site petitioning specifically against this segment in the DOT changes?
Explorer C
I'm glad the government requires full disclosure on the fares. However, this will now hide the government taxes, fees, etc. in one price. Like buying a gallon of gas, the consumer will not know how much of the total goes to the government. Allowing for future tax increases that will fly under the radar.
Explorer C
Will southwest be flying into Grand Rapids Michigan anytime soon?
Explorer C
Thanks for the notice. But why not consider recognizing your frequent clients with some sort of acknowledgement of their loyalty? Even a teired acceptance of taxes as part of the purchase price to gain points seems reasonable. Thx
Explorer C
Once again, the government finds a way to hide the taxes and fees they impose upon consumers. This is not the America in which I grew up.
Explorer C
This make it so people will not know how much they are being taxed. It also makes it so taxes can be raised easer.
Explorer C
Was this change the result of congressional action ?? When was it set up during whose administration ?? Is there a sunset clause ??
Explorer C
i understand that the price shown will be the full price including all fees. but, will southwest or other airlines at least show the air fare, and then the added taxes and fees as a total amount. So at least we still know how much we are paying for the fare itself. this makes sense to show a breakdown of what we are paying. This should be the correct way. When you go to grocery store , the price shown and then the added tax is shown on your receipt. so you know what you are actually paying.
Explorer C
I think that south west is the best baggage to fly airline..large seat space..and generally a fun way to go...Richard d.
Explorer C
Interesting! It's just like when you buy Gasoline, there is so much hidden taxes in Casoline you can go Crazy. In Nevada Gas Taxes are almost 20%-25%. When the price of Gas goes up, no one knows if its the actual Gas Station or Gov't causing the increase (Unless you look at the receipt) but how often do you do that, and what can TRULY be done when the Gov't decides to increase these taxes? It's time to travel by Horseback!
Explorer C
will change of day of the flight -for the rapid reward member to be free ? Thank you . Rosalie.
Explorer C
That is great news!! This will protect us Passengers.
Explorer C
Let's keep "regulating" the unregulated airlines. The more we do the more we can ignore the REAL problem...OIL Companies!
Explorer C
So much for Obama's "Transparent" government. Hide, Obfuscate, Dictate. These fees were ALWAYS visible before purchase on the website. I think it should be law that all fees, taxes and anything other than the base fare should be listed separately and labeled for what it is. This is nothing more than another way to hide, then raise, fees.
Explorer C
The only thing this means is that the government is trying to hide their amount of tax by inserting it into the base fare! Another government trick to try to keep us under control and in the dark!
Explorer C
I wish Southwest still had flights to Hawaii like they did a few years ago. We bought a timeshare there with the idea in mind that we could use our points from Southwest to travel to Hawaii, then they stopped making that flight.
Explorer C
I finally get an opportunity to change a mistake your attendant made when my brother & I signed up a few years ago! You had my e-mail address connected to my brother Richard, and I had his e-mail address connected to me! SO PLEASE CORRECT THIS ERROR!!!! Patrick D. Champagne
Explorer C
Please explain how the Rewards are earned as of today. The last time I received an explanation on how one would recevie Reward credits was when flying so many segments equalled a ticket. How do I earn a free ticket now?
Explorer C
More government! Didn't we learn from decades ago that government involvement w the airlines (like all private businesses) is always deleterious? Keep voting the same way, sheep. Big government will take care of you.
Explorer C
Thank you for your fine explanation of the new rules regarding fares. As always Southwest is light years ahead of other airlines where customer information and service are concerned. You are the best!
Explorer C
Southwest Airlines deserves much credit for service, safety and I hope, staff satisfaction. I appreciate the posting of the hidden taxes. Otherwise we have no idea how we are being taxed and for what. Given the huge increases in aviation gas I'm amazed airfare prices have not risen higher. It would help if the federal government would give a tax break to those of us who fly and support the airline industry. The added taxes do make a difference to us 99%
Explorer C
Finally.....well known practice anywhere on this Planet!!!! Bravo to this Goverment.
Explorer C
I Agree with Drew N. The government should be as accountable as they want the airlines to be...yeah right. I hope SWA does list the charges imposed by the Feds.
Explorer C
Bravo...finally like the Rest of this World.
Explorer C
I'd like to know just how are "Rapid Reward" poiints earned. My grandson is a "Rapid Rewards" memberr; has done approximately 4 fights with Southwest, and yet, no info has been given him as to how many points ( if any) he has earned. Please advise!
Explorer C
Thank you Southwest, for bothering to send an email to your customers, none of the other airlines have done so. You are my favorite airline to fly with, wish Expedia included you in their list of airlines. No baggage fees are awesome, wish you flew to Hawaii!! Also the fact that any flight can be changed or canceled without penalty ROCKS. A couple years ago I booked a flight on US Airways to Phoenix, my son races drag boats there at Firebird raceway, well I booked the flight for the wrong weekend, boy did that cost me. US Airways talked me into booking a whole new flight telling me it would save me in the end, because they charge a $150.00 change fee plus and fee increase. Well I booked 2 more flights for hubby and I and eventually lost the entire $800.00 for the first two tickets because in order to use that $800.00 I would have to pay an additional $300.00 for the change fees, well $1100.00 for 2 round trip tickets from Reno to Phoenix??? I have never flown with them again! Southwest all the way, you are always the airline I check out first. I do wish the credits for changed/canceled flights could still be used by anyone, I travel more than hubby and will use my credits and hope we can get his used also.
Explorer C
If the government can HIDE the TAX fees in the air price it follows they also can increase these new fees without the consumer knowledge. What is next? What happened to transparency?
Explorer C
Explorer C
We want direct flights from Islip to Atlanta. A flight that is an hour and a half now takes about 5 hours on Southwest., making it ridiculous to fly SW to Atlanta.. I have flown SW many times and the only employees I have ever seen be rude to customers are the people who "oversee" the lines waiting to board..This job seems to makes them feel self important.
Explorer C
Will Southwest ever consider flying out to Key West, FL from Providence, RI???
Explorer C
I'm not sure quite what all the fuss is about. As some have already mentioned, you could always see the full fare including taxes and fees before purchasing, because the full breakout of costs and the final total would always appear when you selected a flight, well before actually making your reservation and paying for it. And the base fare displayed clearly stated that it did not include taxes and fees, so it's not like anyone was trying to hide anything. I also think some people are reacting as if this is a rule that is aimed at Southwest only, whereas it is a rule that applies to all airlines. It's not as if Southwest was somehow doing something wrong and had to be made to follow the rules. This is a NEW rule that applies to everyone, and Southwest is simply explaining how it will affect what we see on their site when we seek to purchase tickets. I'm kind of curious to know if this only applies to airlines or if it will also apply to hotels and rental car companies, who also typically market their base fees before any taxes and surcharges are applied. And when we purchase an item in a retail store, or a meal in a restaurant, or any other taxable service or item, does the tax now have to be included in the sticker price, or will it still be added on at time of actual purchase? I'm not sure how the previous way of advertising airfares differs from any of the above or who decided it was a problem in the first place.
Explorer C
Years ago I choose Southwest over all the big airlines because of their customer service and rates. I don't fly any other carrier unless Southwest doesn't fly there. I've found Southwest to be customer orientated and if there has been any problems they have always solved them to my satisfaction. Of all the airlines I used in the pass Southwest has out performed in customer service over all the major airlines. Kudos to Southwest for providing service that surpass all the major airlines. I will continue to use this Southwest because of the integrality shown in the past.
Explorer C
Southwest always has been above board with their charges and are simply the best Airline to fly. If not for the no cancellation or change fee I would not have chosen to fly Southwest.
Explorer C
I appreciate your no baggage charge policy and have used Southwest more due to being up front with cost of flights. Sounds like new government policy requires all airlines to be consistent, so, I like it.
Explorer C
If anyone is interested, most of the taxes go to overseeing safety of take-off, landing, and monitoring planes in the air. If you've ever landed at a busy airport with many other planes coming in at the same time, none of them hitting each other in the process, be grateful that you paid the taxes that made that possible. Other taxes go to Airpot Security so no one will sit next to you with a bomb in their underwear. If you're willing to take that chance, okay, but think of the child in the seat in front of you. Wyn
Explorer C
It's one more example of unnecessary government intervention. I think we all know there are additional fees and taxes. The government just feels compelled to treat everyone on the planet like a "caveman."
Explorer C
It is appreciated that all fees now must be shown. However, I fear the invasion of government control.
Explorer C
I would like to know the exact price on per person one way or rountrip.
Explorer C
The only question I have is as follows: Do my points from Air Tran transfer to SW Airlines?? Would be interested in knowing.
Explorer C
I have been a loyal SW flyer for years and they are the very best of the airlines in terms of treating customers right. The govt. regs don't affect them much. I wish they would have NOT closed SRQ/Sarasota when they take over Air Tran. A very bad decision as many older folk love that airport and flying out of there. Too, too bad. Now, if they would only refund the $10 fee for early boarding when one changes a ticket.....I got caught on this twice recently for my wife and I both. Poof, $40 gone!
Explorer C
MY government is responding to the citizens requesting full disclosure. If you don't care fine. But stop acting like the government is some bad guy by making sure people who don't fly all the time and need to know if they can afford the ticket full information. Or is it that if they have to ask they can't afford it. Maybe only people that don't need to know should fly. Goodness. If left up to you people we'd have government doing nothing but sitting around watching bridges collapse, schools close and planes fall apart or run into each other mid flight. Oh wait, we'll let the free market take care of that because if enough planes collide people will stop flying those airlines. What was the term? Oh yeah. Government extortion. You have no idea how much it costs to fund an airport. Should we skimp on that and see what happens? Infuriating.... Just say thanks for the information.
Explorer C
I Have flown Southwest for years and alw2 times ays been treated very nice. The last 2 times I made my trip I had a problem because my daughter my made reservation on air tran. when we arrived in orlando , I had to sit in the wheel chair for 30 minutes because they had no oneto push me. Then when the girl arrived and we went down to get my luggage when she got it it was open. My suitcase was destroyed. My walker was not there and we had to wait until the gentelmen tried to find out where it was, come to find out it was still in Md. They said I would have it by o'clock in the aftern. It did not arrive until until 9 oclock at night. The next day Icalled about my luggage and all they said was sorry. Now I have to go buy another large suitcase . I fly back and forth to my children often. As when I am sick I have to go up to be with them. I go up for new babies, birthday parties and also funerals. I am up set at how the situation was handled about my suitcase. It was destroyed the handlers should be repremanded for the handling of peoples luggage. They should be taught how to do their Job.efw
Explorer C
I always travel with Southwest. I also have never heard nasty or rude come from any Southwest employee. Untill I flew this last time. I flew to Florida in mid August. Beautiful weather in Florida and here at home in NY. The flight home was so cold on the airplane, I had to put my jacket on. Thats ok I always bring a jacket with me, because I know it gets cool with the air conditioner on. There was a young man across from my seat that had a pair of nylon basketball pair of shorts and short sleeve shirt. It was so cold on the plane, that he took his arms out of his sleeves and put under his shirt to stay warm. He stayed that way till the end of the flight. When he left the plane the flight attendent asked him how his flight was. He told her good except the flight home was a cold one. I was behind him in line when she asked him this. When he was out of ear shot, she said the other flight attendent, he should have worn the proper clothers. Then she preceeded to laugh. I'm sorry to me in mid August he wore the right clothes for the time of year. I was so taken back by this commit by her and very disappointed in her . Sorry Southwest but I guess there's one in every company.
Explorer C
This is a great change. Shame on you, Southwest, for not supporting this move from the beginning. I frankly don't care what the pre-tax fare is. I only care how much it will cost ME out of my pocket in the end.
Explorer C
First, I hate the airlines and think they gouge us. BUT: They should be treated like every other industry when it comes to taxes and government fees. When you buy a car they do not disclose the taxes or govt fees ahead time. ALSO: the law would be better if every dime that went into the airline/partners pockets should be displayed up front, including baggage fees. If it is a mandatory govt fee, no other industry has to disclose it ahead of time, why should the airlines. So make them disclose every penny that a business gets ahead of time, but the taxes etc could come prior to purchase.
Explorer C
one price fairs are easier to shop for. I could never understand why southwest air lines fare taxes were more then other major airlines. example when I price a flight from MSP to SFO the base fare was the same but when you add the taxes in to it southwest was always 10- 15 dollars more. southwest was pocking that difference.
Explorer C
Thanks everyone for this rule because it helps the passage rs and also the various airlines. As one prepares to travel, better arrangements can be made regarding expeniture.