Under federal law, airlines and ticket agents are prohibited from engaging in "unfair or deceptive" practices.  Now, the U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a new rule codifying the definitions of what constitutes an "unfair" or "deceptive" practice.  

According to the DOT, "The rule will benefit the public and regulated entities by providing greater transparency and predictability on how the Department conducts its aviation consumer protection rulemaking and enforcement activities." 

Under the new rule, an "unfair" practice is a practice that, "causes or is likely to cause substantial injury, which is not reasonably avoidable, and the harm is not outweighed by benefits to consumers or competition."  

A "deceptive" practice is now defined as a practice that, "is likely to mislead a consumer, acting reasonably under the circumstances, with respect to a material matter."  The rule also explains that a matter is "material" if "it is likely to have affected the consumer's conduct or decision with respect to a product or service."  

In addition, the rule also states that proof of intent is not necessary to establish unfairness or deception.  

The new rule goes into effect thirty days after publication in the Federal Register.