What the New Airline Passenger Protections Won't Do for You

VIDEO: New rules include cash refunds for delayed flights.
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It's hard to argue with much of the Department of Transportation's newly expanded passenger protection rules -- an updating of common-sense customer service guidelines.

And it's hard to argue that the department, especially in the person of activist Secretary Ray LaHood, isn't in there swinging for us passengers. He's done a lot of good, but I do want to point out a few areas where these "protections" leave something to be desired.

For more travel news and insights, view Rick Seaney's blog at farecompare.com.

Let's look at the five areas -- tarmac delays; bumping compensation; pricing transparency; 24-hour hold for tickets; and, especially, the new baggage fee refunds, which is getting a lot of attention -- to see where passengers still are getting at least a little short-changed.

1. Bag fee refunds may be too little, too late

This sounds good: The airlines are required to reimburse your baggage fee if they lose your bag. Some airlines already do this if you put in a claim, but it's important to note that "one man's delayed bag is another man's lost luggage." In other words, how long must a bag go missing before it's considered "lost"? The rules don't say. What do you say: Is your bag as good as gone if it's been AWOL for a day, a week, a month?

Something else you should know: The airline's compensation for the contents of your missing bag remains unchanged, but don't expect to collect if you had an iPad or jewelry or important papers or even cash in the bag; most airlines don't cover any of that. Indeed, you are breaking the rules of some carriers, such as American Airlines, if you pack any such valuables in a checked bag.

Reminder: Keep all valuables on your person, never in a bag (remember, when bin space is at a premium, even your carry-on may be checked).

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