If things go smoothly in Washington — and why wouldn’t they? — fliers could soon see some changes for the better.

Parents who fear that they may not be seated with their children, adding last-minute stress to a family vacation, know this: Your legislators in the nation’s capital have been paying attention. (Maybe some of them have been seated next to a misplaced son or daughter on one of their many flights.)

Have you ever forked over a checked-baggage fee to an airline, only to have that airline lose the bag? Or paid for a certain kind of seat, say an aisle seat near the front of the plane, and been given a middle seat near the back? Those particular injustices, too, could be a thing of the past.

The Senate recently passed its version of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, which sets policy and funding for the FAA, with consumers in mind.

The bill requires airlines to let parents know at the time they buy tickets whether they can sit with their children. It also ensures that passengers receive a refund for baggage fees when their checked bags go missing. Airlines will also be refunding money paid for a specific seat assignment if it cannot place the flier in that seat.

This is “one of the most passenger-friendly FAA reauthorization bills we’ve seen, literally, in a generation,” Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) told the Washington Post.

The bill, which also includes provisions for upgrading airport security, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and now heads to the House of Representatives, where a similarly consumer-friendly bill has already moved out of committee.

Another bill introduced this year has quite a beguiling title: “‘Forbid Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous Fees Act of 2016,” which goes by the punchier name of FAIR Fees Act. Its purpose, as written, is “to prohibit air carriers from imposing fees that are not reasonable and proportional to the costs incurred by the air carriers.”

The bill is making no headway, but it is another clear sign that people are frustrated with the flying experience, and Congress is listening.


Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.