With the summer travel season just weeks away, the Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed a new rule requiring airlines to compensate passengers when a flight disruption is within the control of the airlines themselves, such as a mechanical or computer-system issue.
“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.”
The DOT has expanded its airline customer dashboard, which was created at the end of last summer. The dashboard shows a side-by-side comparison of what the 10 largest U.S. airlines, which account for approximately 96% of domestic scheduled passenger air traffic, currently offer when they are responsible for flight delays or cancellations.
The DOT notes that policies mandating this type of additional compensation already exist in Canada and the European Union (E.U.).What is the very least passengers in the U.S. can expect after three hours? All 10 major airlines offer free rebooking and meal vouchers. With the exception of ultra-low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines, all of the carriers guarantee hotel accommodations when passengers are stuck until the next day.
The proposed rule is part of a two-year consumer-oriented push by the Biden administration to crack down on so-called “junk fees” in travel and other industries. In March, DOT rolled out a new family seating dashboard that highlights the airlines that guarantee fee-free family seating and those that do not.