President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Monday will announce a proposal for a new rule that would examine mandating airlines to compensate and cover expenses for customers facing “controllable airline cancellations” or delays, according to a White House official.
“When an airline causes a flight cancellation or delay, passengers should not foot the bill,” Buttigieg said in a statement. “This rule would, for the first time in US 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.”
Biden and Buttigieg will also announce that the department is launching an expanded Airline Customer Service Dashboard at FlightRights.gov, which shows which airlines “offer cash compensation, provide travel credits or vouchers, or award frequent flyer miles and cover the costs for other amenities,” according to the official.
No airlines currently provide cash compensation for preventable cancellations or delays, just one airline company guarantees frequent flyer miles, and two provide travel credits and vouchers, according to the official. Mandates for such compensation policies already exist in Canada and the European Union, the official added.
The proposed rule would also establish what constitutes a “controllable cancellation or delay.”
The proposal from the Biden administration comes as Buttigieg fends off criticism over a chain of flight cancellations at the end of last year and beginning of this year, as well as what Buttigieg himself has called an “uptick in serious close calls” between planes landing and taking off.
Amid last summer’s flight cancellations, Buttigieg called CEOs of the 10 largest airline companies and pressed them on stress testing their schedule and improving customer service. He put pressure on the CEOs in a letter, saying he would publish charts showing which airlines guaranteed which forms of compensation for canceled or delayed flights. Seven of those airlines – including Southwest – changed their policies before they were posted, and two followed suit soon after.
Ten airlines now guarantee meals, with nine guaranteeing hotel accommodations, when a delay or cancellation is the airlines, fault, according to the DOT.