"We have too many side deals that airlines are making with tour operators that do not involve the protections of canceled flights," he said referring to passengers who are forced to buy a full-fare return ticket if their flight purchased through a tour operator is canceled.
He suggested that the department raise the compensation 50 percent, to $300 and $600.
But he said any change needs to also deal with those passengers who voluntarily agree to be bumped. "Let's get the numbers and really look at them and find out what the average compensation that airlines are paying," he said. "This is like a shot in the dark."
Financially pressed airlines going further to fill all of their flights
Southwest was ordered to cease and desist from further violations and assessed a civil penalty of $200,000.
The rules offer a blanket of consumer protections, including increasing compensation for passengers involuntarily bumped from flights.
The involuntary bumping rate last year was 1.01 in every 10,000 passengers -- that's a 15 percent increase from the 0.88 rate in 2005.