Canceled flights and lengthy delays are the worst, spoiling vacation plans or delaying returns home. Major airlines have made the news this year with nightmarish delays. And what do most passengers get for the trouble? A refund, which hardly makes up for the hassle and headache.
The Biden administration feels that current aviation rules dealing with delayed and canceled flights are not enough to make up for the inconvenience and wants to offer passengers more for enduring such situations. The Transportation Department wants to hold airlines accountable and offer more protections for travelers, and so will propose a new set of regulations later this year that will require airlines to provide cash or other compensation and cover expenses for meals, lodging and rebooking.
“If your airline is very delayed or canceled, and the airline could’ve prevented that, you deserve more than just getting the price of your ticket. You deserve to be fully compensated," Biden said. "Your time matters. The impact on your life matters."
The key part of the President’s statement, however, is “could’ve prevented.” These new regulations would apply when the airlines are at fault for lengthy delays or cancellations. Weather delays would not require this kind of compensation. While airlines claim that most of the delays have been caused by severe weather and factors out of their control, a recent report released by the Government Accountability Office concluded that the airlines have been primarily at fault in the last two years, due to factors such as maintenance issues or staffing shortages.
If these regulations pass, the U.S. would be in line with Europe and Canada, countries that already have policies in place that require airlines to provide additional compensation. The specifics of the proposal have not yet been released, so it’s not clear how much cash you might receive for your troubles. The rules would offer some peace of mind as air travel continues to be a hassle, but surely such regulations would face pushback and would take time to go into effect.
In the meantime, you can check what compensation you’re entitled to by airline at FlightRights.gov.