US Authorities Issue Ultimatum To Airlines, Demand Help For Stranded, Delayed Passengers

The U.S. Department of Transportation has decided to take stern action and a possible plan of rule changes for the airlines if they do not come up with improvements for customer service. 

During an interview, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that travel disruptions were unacceptable.

“The message to the airlines is that you’ve got to make it easier for passengers to understand their rights. And you’ve got to support passengers when they experience delays or cancellations,” he said. 

He requested airlines to take care of passengers facing flight delays and cancellations. In addition, he asked them to provide meal vouchers for delays of 3 hours or more.  

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He said airlines should arrange lodging for those who must wait overnight because of disruptions within the carrier’s control.

Buttigieg has said that in the first six months, close to 24% of the domestic flights of U.S. airlines were delayed and 3.2% were cancelled. Complaints to the Department of Transportation from airline passengers have soared this year.

U.S. airlines provide meals or hotel rooms if they cancel or delay flights if they are to blame for disruptions, but they are not legally required to do so. However, they may be bound to do so with the new norms. 

Airlines officials say they have reduced the number of flights to improve services. In addition, they have ramped up hiring and have noted that inadequate air traffic control staffing has routinely impacted flights.

An airline trade group cited data showing 63% of the cancellations for the first five months of 2022 were caused by weather or national airspace issues.

Photo: Daniel Ramirez on flickr

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