(Smart Money) — The Department of Transportation’s much-anticipated new rules to protect airline passengers tackle major issues like lost-baggage fees and price transparency, but some consumer advocates and critics say they don’t go far enough. The rules come after years of passenger complaints about hidden fees, lost luggage, inadequate compensation for being bumped from overbooked flights and planes left sitting for hours on the tarmac due to busy airport schedules. In their defense, the airlines have been battling to regain profitability after an historically difficult decade. Here are some major omissions:
A three- or four-hour tarmac wait is still too long. The new rules establish a four-hour limit on tarmac delays for international flights of U.S. and foreign airlines; it’s currently three hours for domestic U.S. flights. Kate Hanni, co-founder of the non-profit organization FlyersRights.org, welcomes the inclusion of international flights, but adds, “I’d rather have three hours,” she says. “It’s not short enough. Our mission in future will be to get those timeframe shortened as airline capacity increases.” Notably, Hanni started her campaign for passenger rights after she and her family were stuck on a runway for nine hours in Austin, Texas without food, water or information. “The men at the back of the plane wanted to storm the cockpit,” she recalls.