On Monday, President Joe Biden said his administration is writing new rules that will require airlines to compensate U.S. passengers with cash when airlines are responsible for a cancellation or lengthly delay.
This is the latest in a series of moves by the Biden administration to crack down on airlines and bolster passenger consumer protections for domestic U.S. flights and international flights involving an American origin or destination.
“Our top priority has been to get American air travelers a better deal,” Biden said.
The rule making, which would be a first for U.S.-based airlines, is aimed at requiring airlines to provide compensation and cover expenses for amenities such as meals, transportation, hotels and rebooking.
As of right now, refunds for canceled flights are federally required, but no major airline offers extra cash for the inconvenience. Only JetBlue and Alaska Airlines currently guarantee compensation of any kind beyond a refund, and it’s in the form of frequent flyer miles or vouchers.
Air travel complaints have quadrupled in recent years, with most coming from travelers trying to get refunds. And for good reason: The Department of Transportation figures attribute almost 80% of cancellations from the first half of 2022 to airline mismanagement like crew shortages, craft maintenance, or late-arriving planes. Those kids of situations would warrant compensation in addition to a refund under the Biden administration’s planned rules.
“Summer travel is going to put enormous pressure on the system,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Monday. “Airlines need to accept their fundamental responsibility to better serve passengers.”
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