U.S. DOT wants travelers to be compensated for airline delays, cancelations

At Phoenix Sky Harbor alone, about 22 percent of flights were delayed in February. New rules could make sure you're compensated for lost time.
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 2:33 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The Biden administration wants passengers to be compensated for long delays and cancelations. “American air travelers deserve better, and that’s what we’re going to do,” President Joe Biden said Monday afternoon. The proposal would require airlines to cover expenses for things including meals, hotels, and re-booking if the delay or cancelation is the airline’s fault.

“If this proposed rule ultimately becomes law, it would be the biggest expansion of travelers’ rights in the U.S. perhaps on record,” said Going’s Scott Keyes, who noted compensation for delays and cancelations is already happening in Europe. “Right now, when an American traveler has their flight delayed, and they’re traveling in Europe, they’re owed compensation of up to $650, but when that same American traveler is flying back in the U.S., they’re entitled up to $0. If this rule were to come to pass, I think you would see fewer airline meltdowns.” Keyes said he believes there would be fewer extended delays and cancelations due to the financial incentive to avoid them.

Travelers agree better customer service would be a win. “The prices have gone up so much. You have less legroom. They don’t do meals on most of the flights anyway now. They’ve taken away things, so yea, if they can help the passenger out, yea definitely!” said traveler Lisa Kennedy. Though travelers want better customer protection, there’s debate over whether it should be regulated by the federal government. “I think that it should be fair for all,” said traveler Derek Masimer. “The government shouldn’t force the airlines, but the passengers shouldn’t be left high and dry.”

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation also expanded its customer service dashboard at FlightRights.Gov to show which airlines give cash compensation, travel credits, vouchers, and frequent flyer miles when they’ve caused delays and cancelations. “Weather remains the top cause of airline delays, but staffing and other issues under the airline’s responsibilities meant that last summer we saw unacceptable rates of delays and cancellations, even on blue sky days,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Airlines for America, which represents major airlines, told On Your Side weather is one of the biggest impacts on flight operations. In a statement, the group said the following:

According to the DOT’s updated customer dashboard, none of the major airlines offer cash compensation for controllable delays that are three hours or longer. Only Alaska and JetBlue offer credits or travel vouchers for extended delays. A spokesperson for Delta gave the following statement: