WASHINGTON, Aug 19 – U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has urged the nation’s 10 largest airlines to do more to help stranded and delayed passengers, warning the government could adopt new rules.
In letters to CEOs of major, regional and low-cost airlines made public Friday, Buttigieg said the department (USDOT) is “considering options” to write new rules “that further expand the rights of airline passengers.
He urged airlines to evaluate customer service plans to “make sure they (ensure) adequate amenities and services to help passengers with the expense and inconvenience of delays and cancellations.”
He also called on airlines “to, at a minimum, provide meal vouchers for delays of three hours or more and accommodation to passengers required to spend the night at an airport due to disruptions within the company’s control.” .
Some US airlines provide meals or hotel rooms if they cancel or delay flights if they are to blame for the disruptions, but are not legally required to do so. Passengers are often unaware of airline policies.
In his letter, Buttigieg said he appreciates the steps airlines have taken to improve service, but added that “the level of disruption Americans have experienced this summer is unacceptable.”
As he indicated, in the first six months, “about 24% of domestic flights of US airlines were delayed and 3.2% were canceled.” Airline passenger complaints to USDOT have skyrocketed this year.
The USDOT plans to create, before September 2, an “interactive dashboard” so that air travelers can compare “the services or amenities offered by each of the major US airlines when the cause of a cancellation or delay is due to circumstances that are under the control of the airline.