“Imagine if you bought a 42-inch, flat-panel TV from Best Buy and they substituted a 32-inch model for the same price,” wondered Airfarewatchdog founder George Hobica. “If we had to pick one category of [airline] regulation that is most urgent, it would be requiring airlines to refund fees for services not delivered.

A recent Airfarewatchdog(TM) poll of more than 1,500 people revealed that 48 percent of respondents think that airlines should be re-regulated and the site is now calling for the government to take action and regulate commercial carrier policies on fees, schedule interruptions, and refunds.

Hobica said, “While airline deregulation has brought many benefits, we feel it would be in the airlines’ best interest to adopt some industry practices that would make passengers feel good about flying again. Airlines frequently get away with things that no other customer service industry would allow.”

Some specific regulations that Airfarewatchdog is calling for:

– If an airline changes its schedule before you depart on a trip, and such schedule change no longer suits your schedule, the airline must secure transportation for you on another airline at your original fare.

If an airline changes its schedule and you are forced to spend money on hotels and meals, such as a forced overnight midway in your trip, the airline must pick up the bill.

– If an airline cancels a flight and you’re traveling on a frequent flyer ticket, any fees associated with that fare must be refunded.

– If your flight is delayed or canceled due to anything within the airline’s reasonable control, the airline must provide adequate lodging, meals, and transportation. It must also put you on another airline’s flight if that flight will get you to your destination sooner than your original airline’s next flight out.

– If an airline loses or delays your checked luggage, all checked bag fees must be refunded in full within 30 days, in cash.

– If you are stuck on the runway for more than three hours, your flight must return to the gate and all passengers be allowed to disembark.