WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced Monday that it will require airlines to compensate passengers for extensive flight delays and cancellations.
The proposed rule would require cash payments, rather than refunds, for significant travel disruptions within the control of airlines. According to the Department of Transportation, no major U.S. airline currently guarantees cash compensation for delays or cancellations.
“I know how frustrated many of you are with the service you receive from your American airlines,” President Biden said Monday at the White House, where he appeared with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The president added that he wanted to “get American air travelers a better deal.”
As travelers return to the skies after the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, the airline industry has come under intense scrutiny after a series of tragedies, including several recent flight disruptions. In December, a winter storm led to an operational meltdown at Southwest Airlines, stranding passengers during the holiday travel season.
The proposed rule would push the airline industry to improve the customer experience, Mr. During his tenure, the Department of Transportation fined airlines millions of dollars for numerous violations, including issues related to customer refunds.
In September, the department issued a Online dashboard Showing passengers What services do they have? If their flights are delayed or cancelled. Mr. Boutiquegeek created the dashboard by prompting airlines to improve their customer-facing policies.
The department has pushed airlines to guarantee that young children can sit with their parents without extra charges. In March, it released a similar dashboard showing which airlines had done so.
The proposed rule announced Monday is the latest in a series of consumer-oriented measures announced by the Biden administration. In his State of the Union address in February, Mr. Biden touted his administration’s efforts to reduce “junk fares,” and he took aim at airlines for charging families to sit together.
The plan, which requires airlines to compensate passengers for flight delays and cancellations, is similar to a policy already in place in the European Union, where passengers can receive up to 600 euros, or about $660, for travel disruption.
“When an airline causes a flight cancellation or delay, passengers should not pay the fare,” said Mr. Boutique said in a statement. “This provision would, for the first time in US history, require airlines to compensate passengers and cover expenses such as meals, hotels and rebooking in cases of flight cancellations or significant delays.”
In addition to compensating passengers, airlines must also cover expenses such as food and hotel accommodations caused by delays or cancellations within the airline’s control. Many airlines already do so.
In a statement Monday, Airlines for America, the trade association that represents the nation’s largest airlines, said “there is no incentive to delay or cancel a flight and do everything in their control to ensure flights depart and arrive on time — but safety always comes first.”
The panel pointed to factors outside the control of the flights, such as weather and air traffic control malfunctions. It said more than half of last year’s cancellations were due to weather, and it noted that airlines have reduced their schedules in response to Federal Aviation Administration staffing shortages.
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