Thirty-four state attorneys general are urging the Department of Transportation (DOT) to enact tougher rules than those recently proposed regarding airline flight delays and cancelations.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg back in August had proposed new rules clarifying when airlines owe passengers refunds, such as when a flight is canceled or experiences a “significant delay” and the passenger chooses not to travel. The proposal defined the threshold to include when the departure or arrival time changes by at least three hours for a domestic flight and at least six hours for an international flight.
Under the DOT proposal passengers would also be entitled to refunds if airlines change the departure or arrival airport, increase the number of connections or alter the type of aircraft if it causes a “significant downgrade” to the air travel experience.
But in a recent comment on the rule, the attorneys general pushed further. They said the DOT proposal should require the airlines to advertise and sell only flights they have adequate personnel to fly and support, and the DOT should perform regular audits of airlines to ensure compliance.
The attorneys general also urged the DOT to ban airlines from imposing “inappropriate limitations” on credits and vouchers given out for cancellations, such as rapid expiration dates and restrictions on how they can be redeemed.
The states’ urging follows a letter to Buttigieg from three Democratic Senators—Maria Cantwell of Washington, Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut—who wrote last month that the airlines should be responsible for passengers’ “secondary costs” when they cancel or “significantly” delay a flight.
Those costs would include hotel rooms, food and drink, and transportation to and from the airport when an airline “due to a problem within its control, cancels or significantly delays a flight,” the Senators wrote.
The push for stronger rules comes after consumer complaints against airlines soared this year as the industry recovers from the pandemic.
Reporters for the political news site The Hill reached out to DOT for comment.