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airplane window womanEver excitedly clicked on a super-low airfare, only to watch, horrified, as taxes and fees bloated the total cost to two or three times the original price?

This all-too-common experience could be a thing of the past for U.S. fliers. Starting this week, the Department of Transportation is instituting new regulations requiring airlines to include all mandatory taxes and fees in their published airfares. They will also need to offer a list of any baggage fees that could apply to your itinerary.

The new regulations are part of a broader slate of air passenger protections, many of which already went into effect in August 2011 — such as required baggage fee compensation for lost luggage, tarmac delay penalties for international flights and higher reimbursement for travelers involuntarily bumped from an overbooked plane. (See How Will the DOT’s New Airline Passenger Rights Affect You? for a full run-down.)

Besides the airfare advertising rules, other new provisions kicking in this week include the right to cancel your booking or hold a reservation without payment for 24 hours, provided that you’re booking at least a week in advance of your departure date. Airlines will also have to “promptly notify passengers of flight delays over 30 minutes,” according to the DOT press release, and they won’t be allowed to raise the price of your ticket after you’ve purchased it.

The new rules won’t actually make your flight cost less, and they won’t find your lost luggage. But at least you’ll know the true cost of your trip, and you won’t have to pay baggage fees for baggage you never see again.

Do you think the new rules go far enough in protecting fliers?

— written by Sarah Schlichter

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