Airlines Butt Heads with White House over Consumer Protections


Reuters reports the aviation industry is pushing back on comments made by U.S. President Joe Biden and the Transportation Department, calling some of their assertations “not accurate.”


Airlines Say Consumer Protection Dashboard Reflects Pre-Existing Policies

Before the 2022 Labor Day holiday, the Transportation Department published a “Customer Service Dashboard” for airline policies in the event of irregular operations. The site – part of the Aviation Consumer Protection unit – outlines what carriers owe passengers in the event of a controllable cancellation, controllable delay, as well as links to the airline customer service policies.


In comments on Monday, September 12, 2022, Biden said that the move was part of a larger plan for “cracking down on the airlines to get passengers fairer treatment.” As quoted by Reuters, the President claimed that he made the request of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to “call them [the airlines] out,” and that prior to the move airlines would not cover meals or hotels for controllable delays or cancellations.


Consumer aviation consortium Airlines for America called the President’s comments “not accurate,” telling Reuters the dashboard simply reflects the formalization of existing airline policies. In a August 2022 blog post, Airlines for America president and chief executive Nicholas E. Calio noted the work the entire industry is doing to be more consumer friendly, including “operating realistic schedules” and offering refunds for cancelled flights.


“Airlines have also adjusted travel policies to increase flexibility such as eliminating change fees or waiving expiration dates on travel credits,” Calio wrote in the comments. “U.S. carriers have issued $21 billion in cash refunds since the onset of the pandemic, and refund complaints to the Department of Transportation (DOT) have been steadily declining.”


Airlines Say Governments Need to do More to Support Commercial Aviation

The clash in comments mark the latest row between governments and airlines, with the air transport sector claiming governments need to do more to support the recovering industry. At the IATA 2022 Annual General Meeting, leaders for the global trade organization said governments need to do more to protect the industry and encourage growth, while not adding additional regulations.

Source: frugal travel guy

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