The Biden administration recently announced a plan to create new regulations that would require airlines to compensate stranded passengers for meal and room expenses when the airline companies are to blame for various travel disruptions.
President Joe Biden stated: “I know how frustrated many of you are with the service provided by your U.S. airlines. That’s why our top priority has been to provide a better deal for American air travelers. That’s why our top priority has been to get American air travelers a better deal.”
The president also said that later this year his office will also propose a historic policy that will require all United States airlines to reimburse customers for the cost of related “meals, hotels, taxis, rideshares and rebooking fees and cash, miles and, or travel vouchers whenever they’re the ones to blame for the cancellation or delay”, adding, “That’s all on top of refunding the cost of your ticket.”
The Biden administration has also supplemented the online dashboard designed to provide passengers with further clarity on the various airlines’ policies concerning customer compensation. This year the administration has already seen improvements each month, said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at the announcement. According to their preliminary data, flight cancellation rates are reported to be under two percent.
The summer travel season, however, is expected to place an enormous strain on the system, Buttigieg admitted. There is currently no guarantee of cash compensation when a delay or cancellation is caused by an airline-related issue. However, it’s not unusual for airlines to reward passengers who experience delays or cancellations due to issues within their control, such as a mechanical issue, with frequent flier miles, travel credits, or vouchers.
In a press release, the Department of Transportation noted that it is working to make sure that travelers are safeguarded against various financial losses via this new proposal. The department also seeks to clearly define “controllable cancellation and delay.”
This announcement is a part of the Biden administration’s effort to significantly improve the customer service that US airline passengers receive. Last summer officials introduced an official online dashboard meant to improve airline customer service. Using the online dashboard travelers can check any airline’s present policies regarding refunds and compensation if a flight is canceled or delayed.
According to the dashboard, a number of the nation’s largest airlines already ensure hotel stays and meals when they are the cause of a cancellation or even delay. Additionally, officials think the proposed policies will result in an overall improvement in the on-time performance of US airlines.
The Department of Transportation began investigations shortly after Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights in late December. It reported that it was specifically looking into whether airline executives scheduled an impractical amount of flights which according to federal law is actually “considered an unfair and deceptive practice.”
Reactions on social media were varied. Many fell along party lines. Some were critical. “Donna” asked: “Still deflecting from the border…?”
Others acknowledged the idea yet had concerns. “Llana” commented: “That’s nice. When you have a minute, do you think you could get early-term abortion legal for all females? A better travel experience is lovely, but we Americans have bigger problems…in case you haven’t noticed.”