Feds plan passengers' bill of rights for air travelers

Plane cabin stock photo.
Photo credit Getty Images
By , Audacy

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced what amounts to a bill of rights for airline passengers. This week, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the department is moving forward with the plan.

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“I’m giving them an opportunity to raise the bar,” Buttigieg told TODAY in a Friday interview. He confirmed that if airlines don’t meet the new regulations, the department will make them.

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These new requirements would mean that airlines would have to refund customer’s money or offer them meal vouchers if their domestic flight is delayed more than three hours. Airlines would also need to provide hotel accommodations for passengers forced to wait overnight for a flight.

Last month, the Transportation Department announced the “first ever” bill of rights for passengers with disabilities. Late last year, lawmakers also proposed a bill of rights for passengers.

Other efforts by the Transportation Department to help airlines passengers include the launch of a new website expected in the next two weeks. According to CNN, Buttigieg said a new dashboard will be displayed by September 2 on the department’s Aviation Consumer Protection site.

“The message to the airlines is that you’ve got to make it easier for passengers to understand their rights. And you’ve got to support passengers when they experience delays or cancellations,” he said in an interview that aired Friday on TODAY.

During the first six months of 2022, 24% of U.S. flights were delayed, according to Transportation Department data cited by NBC News. Another 3.2% were canceled. Data compiled by FlightAware showed that some U.S. airports topped the list for most delays in recent months.

According to a report released this week from Airlines for America, the airline industry is still dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Buttigieg argues that airlines have not been fair or transparent enough with their customers.

“When Americans buy an airline ticket, they should get to their destination safely, reliably, and affordably,” he said. “This new proposed rule would protect the rights of travelers and help ensure they get the timely refunds they deserve from the airlines.”

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