Now Reading
Biden Administration Expected to Announce Major New Compensation Rules For Airline Delays and Cancellations

Biden Administration Expected to Announce Major New Compensation Rules For Airline Delays and Cancellations

a woman holding a book in front of her face

The Biden-Harris administration is expected to announce on Monday new rules that would force airlines to pay compensation to passengers in the event of a cancellation or significant delay.

Airlines would also be required to provide refreshments and cover expenses for hotel accommodation when controllable delays hit passengers.

The rulemaking is likely to be loosely based on the European Commission’s passenger compensation and consumer rights protections that have been in force across Europe and the United Kingdom since 2004.

Known as EC261, the generous rules guarantee that passengers can claim between €250 and €600 in compensation if their flight is cancelled or significantly delayed. In some cases, airlines must pay out more in compensation than the passenger has paid for their ticket.

Europe’s rules also dictate when airlines must cover the costs for passengers to make a telephone call (and even fax messages), as well as provide refreshments and hotel accommodation.

EC261 covers all airlines operating flights to or from Europe, not just European airlines, and the only caveat is if the airline can prove that the delay or cancellation was due to an ‘exceptional circumstance’.

Details of the U.S. government’s plan were leaked on Sunday after an email reportedly sent to U.S. airlines by Blane Workie, assistant general counsel at the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection, was made public by airline insider XJonNYC on Twitter.

“This is a heads up that tomorrow the U.S. Department of Transportation will announce that it has initiated a notice of proposed rulemaking to address expenses and inconveniences experienced by passengers because of controllable airline cancellation or significant delays,” the email read.

“This rulemaking would examine requiring airlines to compensate passengers and cover certain expenses such as meals and hotels for controllable delays and cancellations,” the email continued.

Workie also revealed that a DOT online dashboard will be expanded to show which airlines already voluntarily provide cash compensation or travel credits to passengers in the event of a delay or cancellation.

“While the dashboard will show progress on improved airline customer service policies, it will also make clear that virtually no airlines offer compensation beyond required refunds,” the email concluded.

Last summer, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg unveiled an online dashboard that lists the services that U.S. airlines voluntarily offer in the event of a delay or cancellation as part of a campaign to improve consumer rights across the airline industry.

According to the DOT, before Buttigieg took action, none of the ten largest airlines in the U.S. guaranteed meals or hotels in the event of a controllable delay – now, all ten airlines guarantee meals and rebooking.

The department has also launched a similar dashboard that explains family seating policies at various airlines over fears that families with young children are being forced to pay extra just for the right to sit together. In response, several airlines have already announced changes to their seating policies.

The White House has expressed fears that airlines have been creating unrealistic schedules that they know are going to result in cancellations and long delays. The administration was particularly frustrated with the response of Southwest Airlines late last year when its Christmas meltdown stranded hundreds of thousands of passengers.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2023 All Rights Reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to with appropriate and specific directions to the original content.