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The U.S. Department of Transportation is looking to make airlines obligated by law to provide compensation and cover expenses for passengers that are left stranded by flight disruptions created by the airlines themselves.
The department, headed by Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, has also expanded its Airline Customer Service Dashboard at FlightRights.Gov, a website that shows travelers which airlines currently offer compensation in cash, travel credits, vouchers or frequent flier miles to passengers impacted by airline-created cancellations and delays.
The ten largest airlines in the United States offer meals and free rebooking on the same airline, while nine promise they’ll pay for accommodations. Yet the new law would make it mandatory to do these things, ensuring it’s not just a trend on the part of the airlines, but an obligation towards customer service.
The new law would require airlines to compensate for any airline-related delays or cancellations; provide meals or meal vouchers; and make it mandatory to have timely customer service during and after widespread flight irregularities. The law would also define a delay or cancellation as waiting three hours or more from the scheduled departure time.
President Biden and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced the new ruling jointly on May 8, 2023, according to ABC News. It's expected to receive pushback from the airlines themselves.
“When an airline causes a flight cancellation or delay, passengers should not foot the bill,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This rule would, for the first time in U.S. history, propose to require airlines to compensate passengers and cover expenses such as meals, hotels, and rebooking in cases where the airline has caused a cancellation or significant delay.”
Under Buttigieg’s leadership, the DOT has pushed toward greater customer service when it comes to commercial air travel. During the last two years, it achieved getting ten major airlines to provide compensation for delays and cancellations; encouraged airlines to promise fee-free family seating, something three airlines have currently promised; and issued the largest fines ever issued to airlines to reimburse hundreds of thousands of people impacted by flight cancellations and delays, with over $1 billion worth given back to customers in refunds.
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Lacey Pfalz is a freelance Associate Writer for TravelPulse. When she's not writing about traveling, she's often found fussing...
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