The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has a final rule to codify the definitions of ‘unfair’ and ‘deceptive’ practices in aviation consumer protection.

The department is empowered to regulate ‘unfair and deceptive’ practices of airlines and ticket agents.

According to the final rule, a practice that causes or is expected to ’cause substantial injury’ to the consumers, and ‘the harm is not outweighed by benefits to consumers or competition’ is considered unfair.

Additionally, if a practice is ‘likely to mislead a consumer, acting reasonably under the circumstances, with respect to a material matter’ then it is considered deceptive.

US DOT in a statement said: “The rule will benefit the public and regulated entities by providing greater transparency and predictability on how the Department conducts its aviation consumer protection rulemaking and enforcement activities.

“It explains that future discretionary regulations based on the unfair and deceptive standard will be subject to a hearing procedure.

“It also codifies the practice of offering airlines and ticket agents the opportunity to be heard and to present relevant evidence before the Department takes any enforcement action for an alleged unfair or deceptive practice.

“This rule will help ensure that the Department’s enforcement practices and regulations stay within the scope of the Department’s statutory authority.”

Implementation of the rule is subject to publication in the Federal Register and expected to come into effect 30 days following the publication.

In May, the USDOT issued two notices related to airline service obligations and consumer protections.