Ahead of Labor Day, DOT launches new dashboard to help air travelers know their rights when experiencing airline-caused flight disruptions

After Secretary Buttigieg Writes Letter to Airline CEOs, Airlines Made Meaningful Improvements to Customer Service Plans

WASHINGTON — Throughout 2022, Americans have experienced an unacceptable level of flight delays and cancellations. When these disruptions occur, airlines are required to support passengers according to the commitments made in their customer service plans, but too often passengers find these plans difficult to understand and do not guarantee services – such as meals or hotel accommodation when they have to wait overnight at an airport – even for flights delayed or canceled by the carrier. To ensure the traveling public has easy access to this information, the U.S. Department of Transportation today rolled out a new Airline Customer Service Dashboard, which includes recent customer service improvements made by airlines. at the request of Secretary Buttigieg.

Two weeks ago, Secretary Buttigieg wrote a letter to airline CEOs advising them that the DOT would release the scorecard before Labor Day and urged airlines to improve their customer service plans ahead of the release. As a result, all but one of the ten largest US airlines have made significant changes to their plans to improve the services provided to passengers when their flights are canceled or delayed due to an airline issue. For example, no airline unconditionally guaranteed meal vouchers or hotels prior to Secretary Buttigieg’s letter. Now nine of 10 guaranteed meals and eight of 10 guaranteed hotel rooms when an airline issue causes the delay or cancellation.

The Dashboard offers air travelers a one-stop-shop for information on the services and amenities they should receive from the airlines if they experience delays or cancellations caused by something within the airline’s control, such as a mechanical or personnel problem. The dashboard also provides a clear comparison of the amenities the airlines have committed to providing, which will help consumers decide which airline to fly. The creation of this new tool is one of the many measures taken by the Department to improve the customer service offered to travellers. The Department will hold airlines accountable if they fail to deliver promised services. The Department has also provided direct links to airline customer service plans on its Aviation Consumer Protection website.

“Passengers deserve transparency and clarity about what to expect from an airline in the event of a cancellation or disruption,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This dashboard collects this information in one place so that travelers can easily understand their rights, compare airline practices and make informed decisions. The Department will continue to support passengers and hold airlines accountable for meeting their obligations to customers. »

Regardless of the cause of delays or cancellations, the Department expects airlines to provide prompt and responsive customer service during and after periods of flight disruption. In addition, regardless of the cause of significant delays or cancellations, airlines are required to promptly reimburse ticketed passengers if a passenger chooses not to accept the alternative offered, such as rebooking on another flight.

In addition to the dashboard, the Department is currently collecting feedback on a proposed rule that would 1) require airlines to proactively inform passengers that they are entitled to receive a refund when a flight is canceled or changed significantly, 2) define a significant change and cancellation that would qualify for a refund, 3) require airlines to provide vouchers or travel credits with no expiry date when people cannot travel because they have COVID-19 or other communicable diseases; and 4) require airlines that receive significant pandemic-related government assistance to issue refunds in lieu of non-expiring travel credits or travel vouchers when passengers are unable or advised against travel due to a serious communicable disease. The Department is also considering options for additional regulation that would further expand the rights of airline passengers who experience flight disruptions.

In addition, the Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP) recently concluded its investigation of 10 airlines and is pursuing enforcement action against them for extreme delays in refunding flights that the airlines have canceled or significantly modified. The Bureau is also actively investigating the refund practices of other airlines operating flights to, from, or within the United States. In November 2021, the OACP imposed its largest-ever fine against an airline for extreme delays in reimbursing thousands of consumers for flights to or from the United States that a carrier canceled.

In addition, over the past year, the Department has taken a number of other steps to improve airline passenger protection, including:

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