The U.S. Department of Transportation said Monday that it plans to require airlines to compensate passengers whose flights were delayed or cancelled above and beyond a refund.
The DOT announced a new rulemaking process that would mandate compensation that covers expenses for meals, hotels, and rebooked flights in cases where airlines are deemed responsible for stranding flyers at an airport.
The move would put U.S. passengers on a more even footing with their European counterparts in terms of what airlines are required to offer on flights to, from, and within the EU.
The agency said that, over the past two years, the ten largest airlines in the country now promise stranded passengers meals and free rebooking on the same carrier, while nine promise to offer hotel accommodations, according to the DOT’s Airline Customer Service Dashboard.
“When an airline causes a flight cancellation or delay, passengers should not foot the bill,” said Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in a statement. “This rule would, for the first time in U.S. history, propose to require airlines to compensate passengers and cover expenses such as meals, hotels, and rebooking in cases where the airline has caused a cancellation or significant delay.”
The plan is intended “to ensure that passengers experiencing controllable delays and cancellations are better protected from financial losses than is the case today,” the agency said in a news release.
In addition, while, unlike in the European Union, no airline currently offers passengers cash compensation for controllable delays and cancellations, the DOT’s customer service dashboard at the flightrights.gov website has been expanded to display which, if any, airlines do offer cash compensation, provide travel credits or vouchers, or award frequent-flyer miles when delays or cancellations are the fault of the carrier.
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