WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced Monday that it will seek to compel airlines to compensate passengers for significant flight delays and cancellations.
The proposed rule would require airlines to provide cash payments rather than simple refunds for major travel disruptions that were within the airline’s control. No airline currently guarantees cash compensation for delays or cancellations in the United States, according to the Department of Transportation.
“When an airline causes a flight to be canceled or delayed, passengers should not foot the bill,” Pete Buttigieg, the Transport Secretary, said in a statement. “This rule would propose, for the first time in U.S. history, requiring airlines to compensate passengers and cover expenses such as meals, hotels and rebookings in cases where the airline airline has caused a cancellation or significant delay.”
Mr. Buttigieg and President Biden are due to hold an event at the White House on Monday afternoon to promote the plan.
The airline industry has come under intense scrutiny after a series of misfortunes, including a series of recent flight disruptions as travelers return to the skies following the peak of the coronavirus pandemic. In December, a winter storm caused an operational collapse at Southwest Airlines, stranding passengers during the holiday season.
The proposed rule adds to Mr. Buttigieg’s efforts to push the airline industry to improve the customer experience. During his tenure, the Department of Transportation imposed millions of dollars in fines on airlines for a number of violations, including issues with customer refunds, although some critics pushed him to adopt a harder line with the industry.
In September, the department rolled out an online dashboard showing travelers what services they are entitled to if their flights are delayed or canceled. Mr Buttigieg credited the creation of the scorecard with pushing airlines to improve their consumer policies.
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