December 4, 2023

The U.S. Division of Transportation (DOT) has initiated a rulemaking that might pressure airways to cowl bills (resort lodging and meals) and supply compensation (money) for controllable flight delays and cancellations.

The European Union has had Air Passenger Proper laws EC 261/2004 for practically 20 years, requiring airways to supply Responsibility to Care (lodging and meals) and compensation for flight delays and cancellations. Now, the U.S. intends to have one thing comparable.

Present State of affairs For Flight Delays & Cancellations:

Division of Transportation Press Launch:

DOT to Suggest Necessities for Airways to Cowl Bills and Compensate Stranded Passengers

For the primary time in U.S. historical past, DOT initiates a rulemaking that might require airways to compensate passengers and canopy sure bills for controllable delays and cancellations

FlightRights.Gov, the newly-expanded DOT dashboard first launched final summer time to carry airways accountable to passengers, reveals that few airways at present present any compensation for airline-caused delays or cancellations

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Division of Transportation (DOT) right now introduced plans to launch a brand new rulemaking that’s geared toward requiring airways to supply compensation and canopy bills for facilities resembling meals, motels, and rebooking when airways are liable for stranding passengers. After a two-year DOT push to enhance the passenger expertise, the ten largest airways assure meals and free rebooking on the identical airline and 9 assure resort lodging as a part of the Division’s Airline Buyer Service Dashboard. DOT expanded the dashboard right now at FlightRights.Gov to spotlight which airways at present provide money compensation, present journey credit or vouchers, or award frequent flyer miles once they trigger flight delays or cancellations. DOT’s deliberate rulemaking would make passenger compensation and facilities necessary in order that vacationers are taken care of when airways trigger flight disruptions.

“When an airline causes a flight cancellation or delay, passengers mustn’t foot the invoice,” mentioned U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This rule would, for the primary time in U.S. historical past, suggest to require airways to compensate passengers and canopy bills resembling meals, motels, and rebooking in instances the place the airline has precipitated a cancellation or important delay.”

The deliberate rulemaking is geared toward addressing:

  • Compensation for passengers when there’s a controllable airline cancellation or important delay;
  • A meal or meal voucher, in a single day lodging, floor transportation to and from the resort, and rebooking for controllable delays or cancellations;
  • Well timed customer support throughout and after durations of widespread flight irregularities; and
  • Definition of a controllable cancellation or delay.

Along with saying plans to provoke a rulemaking that might strengthen shopper protections, the Division has launched FlightRights.Gov and expanded its Airline Buyer Service Dashboard to present vacationers extra transparency concerning the varieties of compensation, if any, airways at present assure when they’re the reason for a cancelation or delay. The next classes had been added to Commitments for Controllable Cancellations and Controllable Delays:

  • Money compensation when cancellation or delay ends in passenger ready 3 hours or extra from the scheduled departure time;
  • Journey credit score/voucher when cancellation or delay ends in passenger ready for 3 hours or extra for scheduled departure time; and
  • Frequent flyer miles when cancellation or delay ends in passenger ready for 3 hours or extra for a flight from the scheduled departure time.

At the moment, one airline ensures frequent flyer miles, and two airways assure journey credit or vouchers as compensation if passengers expertise important delays or cancellations which might be attributable to one thing inside the airline’s management, resembling a mechanical concern. No airline ensures money compensation when an airline concern causes the numerous delay or cancellation. The Division’s rulemaking proposes to make sure that passengers experiencing controllable delays and cancellations are higher shielded from monetary losses than is the case right now. The Division plans to outline “controllable cancellation and delay” on this rulemaking. Additionally, the Division believes that this rulemaking might end in improved airline on-time efficiency.

As we speak’s announcement builds upon work that DOT has been pushing on for the final two years. Final summer time, Secretary Buttigieg urged to enhance their customer support plans earlier than the discharge of the Airline Buyer Service Dashboard. Airways responded. Earlier than the Secretary’s letter, not one of the 10 largest U.S. airways assured meals or motels when the airline was at fault for a delay or cancellation. Now, all 10 assure meals and 9 assure resort lodging when an airline concern causes the delay or cancellation.

Through the previous two years, DOT has taken different unprecedented motion to make sure the touring public is protected, together with:

  • Final 12 months, DOT issued the most important fines within the historical past of the Division’s Workplace of Aviation Shopper Safety—serving to to get tons of of 1000’s of individuals tons of of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} again. And since 2021, DOT has helped return greater than $1 billion in refunds to vacationers.
  • Earlier this 12 months, Secretary Buttigieg pressed airways to decide to fee-free household seating. Earlier than his urging, no airline dedicated to guaranteeing a father or mother or caregiver might sit subsequent to a baby aged 13 or below with out paying junk charges. Now three airways have dedicated to guaranteeing fee-free household seating, and DOT is pursuing a rulemaking that might require all airways to take action. Secretary Buttigieg additionally submitted to Congress a legislative proposal to require that airways present fee-free household seating. To additional help customers in assessing airline household seating commitments, final month, DOT rolled out a brand new household seating dashboard that highlights the airways that assure fee-free household seating, and people that don’t, making it simpler for fogeys to keep away from paying junk charges to sit down with their youngsters once they fly.
  • The Division’s proposed rule on Airline Ticket Refunds, if adopted, would: 1) require airways to proactively inform passengers that they’ve a proper to obtain a refund when a flight is canceled or considerably modified, and a pair of) outline a big change and cancellation that might entitle a shopper to a refund as greater than three hours for a home flight, and greater than six hours for a global flight. The rule would additionally 3) require airways to supply non-expiring vouchers or journey credit when individuals can’t journey as a result of they’ve COVID-19 or different communicable illnesses; and 4) require airways that obtain important authorities help sooner or later associated to a pandemic to concern refunds as an alternative of non-expiring journey credit or vouchers when passengers are unable or suggested to not journey due to a critical communicable illness.
  • The Division has proposed a rule that might considerably strengthen protections for customers by guaranteeing that they’ve entry to sure price data earlier than they buy their airline tickets. Beneath the proposed rule, airways and journey search web sites must disclose upfront—the primary time an airfare is displayed—any charges charged to sit down together with your little one, for altering or cancelling your flight, and for checked or carry-on baggage. The proposal seeks to supply clients the data they want to decide on the perfect deal. In any other case, shock charges can add up rapidly and overcome what could take a look at first to be an inexpensive fare.
  • The Division has proposed a rule to refund passengers for companies they paid for that aren’t really supplied (e.g., damaged WiFi).


The satan is within the particulars of what may be thought of a controllable cancellation or delay and what airways want to be thought of out of their management.

Many of those delays and cancellations are airways’ personal making. They schedule extra flights than crews can function with out going extra time or having insufficient preventative upkeep, an outdated fleet, and plenty of last-minute mechanicals.

I want that when the DOT introduces the compensation guidelines, they’re crystal clear, in contrast to in Europe, the place many airways battle onerous to not compensate. Nonetheless, DOT in the US has energy and sometimes fines airways that fail to comply with the foundations. The fines, nevertheless, are insignificant in comparison with what airways save for breaking them.

The proposed rulemaking would exclude delays and cancellations outdoors of airways’ management, in contrast to in Europe, the place these are eligible for obligation to care (lodging & meals) however not for money compensation.

Let’s see what the precise rule is as soon as completed. Undoubtedly, airways are closely lobbying for relaxed guidelines and the bottom potential compensation.