The Department of Transportation unveiled the website after what the agency calls an “unacceptable level” of flight disruption this year. The dashboard details which of the top 10 carriers in the United States – including Delta Air Lines Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. – provides meal vouchers when passengers wait three hours or more, and which provides accommodation if the delay is one night.
“Passengers deserve transparency and clarity about what to expect from an airline in the event of a cancellation or disruption,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.
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Airlines are finding it increasingly difficult to manage demand, with around 3% of flights canceled and 21% delayed in the first six months of the year. In turn, complaints about air travel jumped about 270% from pre-pandemic levels. The department has proposed a rule to extend protections to passengers seeking refunds for canceled flights.
Buttigieg asked airlines in August to provide meals and hotels in the event of long delays. No airline had guaranteed hotels or meals before the letter, but now eight of the 10 airlines are committing to providing hotels, and nine of the 10 are committing to providing meals, a senior official said. the administration on a call with reporters.
Airlines say they have already given benefits to travelers, although several updated their customer service plans ahead of the launch of the dashboard.
Southwest Airlines Co. said its plan provides “a clear expectation of the minimum requirements” it already has in place, while Delta said it updated language “to be explicitly clear” about services and the amenities it provides. It offered to rebook passengers “at no additional cost” and provide meal vouchers for waits longer than three hours, according to a review of the changes. American has explicitly added that it will provide meal vouchers if the delay is three hours or more after the scheduled departure.
Some say that the Department of Transport still does not do enough. States launched a new campaign this week calling for the passage of legislation that would empower state attorneys general to enforce consumer protection laws in the airline industry. Currently, federal law assigns this responsibility to the Department of Transportation.
“If state attorneys general had a substantial and meaningful role in overseeing airline consumer protection, the US DOT’s failure would be ameliorated by state attorneys general’s ability to enforce the law,” they said. they wrote on Wednesday.
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