US proposes new rules for flight cancellations and delays
The Biden administration is working on new rules that would require airlines to compensate passengers and cover their meals and hotel rooms if they are stranded for reasons within the airline’s control.
The White House said President Joe Biden and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg would announce the start of the rulemaking process Monday.
The rulemaking promise follows a push by the Democratic government to require airlines to improve customer service, and it comes just weeks before the start of the peak summer travel season.
The aim of the rules would be, for the first time, to oblige airlines to pay compensation beyond a ticket refund and to cover the costs incurred by consumers, including rebooking on another flight, if the airline causes a cancellation or significant delay.
“If an airline causes a flight cancellation or delay, passengers shouldn’t foot the bill,” Buttigieg said in a statement.
Currently, if an airline cancels a flight for any reason, consumers can request a refund of the unused portion of their ticket and certain extras they may have paid to the airline, such as: B. Baggage check-in or seat assignment fees. Airlines often try to convince consumers to accept a travel voucher instead of a refund.
After widespread flight disruptions last summer, the Department of Transportation released an online dashboard designed to pressure airlines to improve customer service. On the website, consumers can consult each airline’s policy on refunds and compensation for flight cancellations or delays.
Each of the top 10 US airlines quickly pledged to provide cash or meal vouchers if a cancellation forces passengers to wait at least three hours for another flight. Nine of the 10 – all but Frontier Airlines – also pledged to pay for accommodation for passengers stranded overnight.
Questions resurfaced about consumer reimbursement for expenses after Southwest Airlines canceled nearly 17,000 flights during a meltdown in December. The Departments of Transportation and Justice are investigating whether Southwest has scheduled more flights than it can realistically handle.
The Transport Department says it is working with airlines to reduce cancellations and delays this summer when air travel could surpass pre-coronavirus pandemic records.
A report by Congress’ Government Accountability Office last month blamed airlines for many cancellations, but the Federal Aviation Administration has also caused disruptions due to technology failures and staff shortages. The FAA recently encouraged airlines to reduce flights to and from major New York airports this summer because it doesn’t have enough air traffic controllers at a key facility.