Naperville Business Lawyer Discusses FAA Reauthorization Bill

FAA, Naperville business lawyerThe air travel industry is an important part of the American economy at large. While digital technology has made it easier for companies to conduct business with one another over large distances, there is still a great need for in-person interactions. “Traveling for business” will continue to be a necessity long into the foreseeable future.

In my practice as a business law attorney, I have worked with many clients whose businesses depend on a healthy airline industry. Over the last few years, much has been written and discussed regarding airlines’ attempts to save money and grow profits, not to mention a number of scary incidents both in the air and on the ground. Now, a federal bill is headed for the president’s desk that addresses some of the problems that many travelers currently experience.

An Important Bill

This week, the U.S. Senate voted 93-6 to pass a bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the primary government agency overseeing air travel in the United States. The measure includes a number of provisions, but there are several that could affect a large percentage of travelers. It was passed by the House last week and now awaits the signature of President Trump.

The bill includes a directive to the FAA to determine a minimum seat size for commercial airplanes, as well as a minimum “pitch.” In the airline industry, pitch refers to the distance between each row of seats. Airlines have been decreasing pitch in recent years in an attempt to add more seats per flight and to increase ticket revenues.

The measure also contains a provision that bans airlines from bumping passengers from a flight who have already taken their seats. This particular issue made headlines in April of last year when security officers dragged a bloodied passenger from a plane at O’Hare airport.

Other provisions in the bill include:

  • Officially prohibiting the use of cell phones to make calls during a flight. Most airlines already have such a restriction;
  • Expanding the ban on onboard smoking to include electronic cigarettes;
  • Making it illegal to put a live animal in an overhead luggage bin. A small dog died earlier this year in pet carrier that had been placed in the overhead bin;
  • Increasing mandatory rest periods for cabin crew from eight hours to 10 hours between flights;
  • Adding funding for bomb-sniffing dogs and more efficient security screenings; and
  • Requiring airlines to refund fees to passengers for items and services that they do not use or receive.

Some provisions were stripped from the original bill before it was approved by the Senate, including one that would have given the Secretary of Transportation the authority to determine if airline fees were “reasonable.”

Most experts have not seen any indications of a problem in getting the bill signed by the president.

Call Us for Help

If your business is connected to or relies on the air travel industry, the proposed regulations could have an impact on your bottom line. Contact an experienced Naperville business law attorney to discuss your situation today. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation at The Gierach Law Firm.

 

Sources:

The Washington Post

NPR