ATLANTA -- As the holiday season approaches, the nation's major airlines are promising to treat travelers with a little more kindness.
Under pressure from Congress, which had threatened legislative action, the air carriers have developed customer service policies and asked lawmakers to give them a chance to win back the public's affection. The new policies will begin Wednesday.
The airlines promise to:
Inform passengers of the lowest fare available on every flight.
Give early notification of delays and cancellations.
Respond to complaints within 60 days (Atlanta's dominant carrier, Delta Air Lines, is promising action within 30 days).
Increase the lost baggage liability limit from $1,250 to $2,500.
The airlines' version of the much-discussed airline passenger "bill of rights" will not abridge their freedom to put as many people as they can onto an airplane nor guarantee a traveler the right to a speedy arrival.
Horror stories -- passengers trapped for hours without food, drink or restroom access on airplanes grounded by snowstorms -- recounted at congressional hearings this year set off the threat of a federally imposed passenger bill of rights.
Each airline has adopted specific guidelines on customer service, and officials say travelers should contact the airlines or check their Web sites for details.