Markey, Blumenthal and fellow Democrats reintroduce airline passenger bill of rights

The Air Passengers’ Bill of Rights would put in place essential consumer protections for travelers, including compensating passengers for delays and cancellations caused by airlines and payments to passengers for oversold flights.

Washington (November 17, 2021) – Ahead of a busy holiday season, U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bob Casey (D – Penn.) And Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.) reintroduced comprehensive legislation to extend protections for air travelers. Among a host of key consumer protections, the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights would ensure that airlines provide passengers with fair compensation, refunds and remedies for flight delays and cancellations caused by airlines. , forcing airlines to pay passengers at least $ 1,350. denied boarding due to an oversold flight, and require airlines to immediately reimburse baggage charges for damaged or lost baggage.

“Exorbitant fees for checked baggage and change, seat reduction, flight cancellations and delays, and growing dissatisfaction with the flight experience make the Passenger Bill of Rights as important as a boarding card. ” Senator Markey said. “Ensuring that airline customers have basic consumer rights every time they travel is a requirement in the 21st century, especially as we recover better from the global pandemic. The Air Passenger Bill of Rights puts passengers in control of their flight experience, restoring fairness to a friendly sky.

“This comprehensive bill will make the skies more user-friendly for airline passengers,” Senator Blumenthal said. “From skyrocketing fees and shrinking seats to airline delays and cancellations, air travel has become stressful, unpredictable and uncomfortable for travelers. While passengers are paid at every turn, the airline industry has raked in billions. Americans urgently need stronger consumer rights and protections, and I am proud to lead the Air Passenger Bill of Rights to restore sanity in the skies.

“Almost anyone who’s been on a plane knows how complicated air travel can be, and COVID-19 has only magnified many of the challenges. ” Ron Wyden said.“It’s time to craft a new Air Passenger Bill of Rights and stand up for the rights of all air passengers by ensuring rock-solid consumer protection for air travel. “

“Airlines are subjecting passengers to increasingly reduced seats and ever higher fees, increasing stress for consumers and frontline staff who are doing their best to keep everyone safe during the pandemic.” . ” Senator Whitehouse said. “Our Air Passenger Bill of Rights will make air travel more predictable, affordable and comfortable for the millions of Americans who fly every day.”

This legislation extends the progress made by Markey, Blumenthal and the Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee on this issue, both in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 and in the FAA Extension of 2016. , and follows President Joe Biden’s August executive order directing the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to engage in a series of regulations to tackle unfair airline charges for baggage and in-flight services.

The Air Passengers Bill of Rights would protect air travelers by:

Require airlines to reimburse tickets and compensate passengers for delays and cancellations caused by airlines

· Requires airlines to provide ticket refunds and alternative transportation for flights delayed between one and four hours.

· Requires airlines to provide reimbursement for tickets, alternative transportation, compensation, and cover costs for meals and accommodation (if applicable) for flights delayed by more than four hours.

· Orders the DOT to facilitate interline agreements between airlines to ensure the availability of alternative flights.

· Crackdown on airlines using the weather as an excuse for delays and cancellations that are actually the fault of the airlines.

Compensation in the event of involuntary denied boarding

· Establishes $ 1,350 as the minimum level of compensation that an air carrier or foreign air carrier must pay to a passenger who is involuntarily denied boarding due to an oversold flight.

· Encourages airlines to compensate passengers who forfeit their seat in the form of cash payment.

· Prohibits airlines from imposing a cap on the amount of compensation paid to a passenger for having given up their seat.

Prevent airlines from endangering safety by reducing seats

· Prohibits airlines from further reducing seat sizes until DOT implements a minimum seat size requirement.

Strengthen the transparency of passenger rights

· Requires airline employees to attend biannual passenger rights training.

· Ensures that passengers receive a clear explanation of their rights when purchasing the ticket and throughout the journey.

Protecting Basic Humanity on Airplanes

· Demands that the FAA study food and water safety on board planes and demands that drinking water and toilets be available free of charge.

· Requires functional toilets on all airplanes and that toilets must accommodate passengers with disabilities.

Exorbitant grounding costs

· Prohibits airlines from charging exorbitant and unnecessary fees unrelated to the service provided.

· Requires airlines to disclose actual flight costs and offer the lowest fares on multi-segment flights.

· Requires airlines to be transparent about changes and costs associated with frequent flyer programs.

· Demands that airlines immediately reimburse baggage fees for damaged or lost baggage.

Restore consumer rights to pursue airline claims

· Restores the right of passengers to sue airlines in federal and state courts for unfair and deceptive practices.

· Restores the right of passengers with disabilities to sue airlines in federal court for denying basic access.

· Improves the process for passengers to submit complaints to airlines and requires airlines to respond quickly to concerns.

Strengthening the enforcement of DOT against the airline industry

· Demands that the DOT explain the reasons why it has not imposed sanctions on airlines for violation of passenger rights.

· Institutes a study by DOT and consumer groups on the feasibility of a system in which fines imposed on airlines go directly to passengers.

· Eliminate the ceiling on fines that the DOT imposes on airlines for violating consumer protection laws and prevent airlines from negotiating low and severe fines for blatant conduct.

Addressing the lack of meaningful competition in the airline industry

· Requires a Government Accountability Office investigation into the fairness of air fares and charges versus the costs of services provided on flights since airline consolidation.

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