September 30, 2022
Buttigieg, USDOT Urge US Airlines to Do Better
Airlines Industry

Buttigieg, USDOT Urge US Airlines to Do Better

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DALLAS – In letters to the CEOs of the 10 largest US airlines, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg today urged them to do more to assist stranded and delayed passengers. He also issued a warning that the government may jump in and adopt new regulations to solve the problems.

The letters to major, regional and low-cost carriers were made public today, and Buttigieg said the Department of Transportation (USDOT) is “contemplating options” to write new rules “that would further expand the rights of airline passengers.”

According to a report in Reuters, the Secretary urged carriers to review customer service plans to “ensure that (they) guarantee adequate amenities and services to help passengers with expenses and inconveniences due to delays and cancellations.” He also said that airlines should “at a minimum provide meal vouchers for delays of 3 hours or more and lodging accommodations for passengers who must wait overnight at an airport because of disruptions within the carrier’s control.”

Although some U.S. airlines do provide meals or hotel rooms if they cancel or delay flights due to circumstances within their control, they are not legally required to do so. The problem is that passengers are often not aware of airline policies.

Buttigieg wrote that he appreciated the steps airlines had taken to improve service. But he also added that “the level of disruption Americans have experienced this summer is unacceptable.”

“Roughly 24% of the domestic flights of U.S. airlines have been delayed and 3.2% have been canceled,” he said.” The USDOT says that the number of complaints received from passengers this year has skyrocketed.

Buttigieg has noted to news organizations that U.S. airline rules are in need of a “refresh.”

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Photo: USDOT

Interactive Dashboard

To help passengers understand their rights, USDOT plans to create an “interactive dashboard” for airline customers to compare “services or amenities that each of the large U.S. airlines provides when the cause of a cancellation or delay was due to circumstances within the airline’s control.” The website should be online by September 2 as the Labor Day travel period begins.

In some instances, airlines have voluntarily reduced the number of flights to improve service and are ramping up hiring while also arguing that inadequate air traffic control staffing has routinely impacted flights.

Reuters notes that on Monday, hundreds of flights were delayed at three major New York City area airports. The FAA had said that staffing issues could result in delays approaching two hours.

New rules about refunding airline customers for delayed baggage are also being drafted.

Feature image: Salt Lake City E-Jets tails | United Airlines and Delta Air Lines. Photo: Michael Rodeback/Airways

John Huston is a marketer, writer, and videographer who's always loved planes, clocked 10 whole hours in a Cessna and can spend hours wandering around ATL. Based in Atlanta, GA, United States.

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