(MENAFN- Trend News Agency)
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has urged the 10 largest
U.S. airlines to do more to assist stranded and delayed passengers
and warned the government may adopt new regulations, Trend reports with reference
to Reuters .
In letters to major, regional and low-cost carrier chief
executives made public Friday, Buttigieg said the department
(USDOT) is 'contemplating options' to write new rules 'that would
further expand the rights of airline passengers.'
He urged airlines to assess 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 asked airlines 'at a minimum to 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.'
Some U.S. airlines provide meals or hotel rooms if they cancel
or delay flights if they are to blame for disruptions, but they are
not legally required to do so. Passengers are often not aware of
Major airlines and an airline trade group did not immediately
In his letter, Buttigieg said he appreciated steps airlines had
taken to improve service but added 'the level of disruption
Americans have experienced this summer is unacceptable'.
He said that in the first six months, 'roughly 24% of the
domestic flights of U.S. airlines have been delayed and 3.2% have
been canceled.' Complaints to USDOT from airline passengers have
soared this year.
USDOT plans by Sept. 2 to create an 'interactive dashboard' for
air travelers to compare 'services or amenities that each of the
large U.S. airlines provide when the cause of a cancellation or
delay was due to circumstances within the airline's control'.
Buttigieg and major U.S. airlines have often clashed this summer
over who is responsible for tens of thousands of flight delays and
cancellations. He met virtually with airline CEOs ahead of the busy
July 4 travel weekend to pressure them to perform better, set more
realistic schedules and said the airline industry is largely
responsible for the travel woes.
Buttigieg has faced pressure from U.S. lawmakers who want him to
do more to force airlines to provide better service.
Airlines note they have voluntarily reduced flights to improve
service, ramped up hiring and argue that inadequate air traffic
control staffing has routinely impacted flights.
On Monday, hundreds of flights were delayed at three major New
York City area airports after the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) reported staffing issues and said delays could 'approach two
USDOT is drafting a number of new airline consumer rules,
including requiring refunds for delayed baggage. In June, the
agency warned it may prohibit airlines from charging extra fees to
allow young children to sit next to accompanying family
Buttigieg told Reuters last that U.S. airline rules were in need
of a 'refresh' and noted USDOT has completed 10 airline passenger
refund investigations and is pursuing enforcement actions. He has
also proposed to codify USDOT's longstanding interpretation that
failing to provide refunds when an airline cancels or significantly
changes a U.S. flight constitutes an unfair practice.
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