President Biden Wants Airlines to Pay Passengers for Long Delays and Flight Cancellations

From now on, if you’ve the victim of a massive flight delay or a cancellation, you may be entitled to compensation.

At least that’s what President Joe Biden is hoping. On Monday, his administration said it was writing new rules that would require airlines to pay passengers for the inconvenience if the carrier was responsible, Reuters reported. Currently, companies don’t legally have to provide compensation for such incidents.

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“When an airline causes a flight cancellation or delay, passengers should not foot the bill,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

The Biden administration didn’t say how much it would require airlines to give passengers, but last year it asked carriers whether they would agree to pay a minimum of $100 for a delay of at least three hours. (In comparison, the European Union and some other countries require up to 600 euros, or $663, for significant delays.) The president’s office is also hoping to ensure that airlines pay for meals and hotels, which many voluntarily committed to in August, and plans to propose the the new guidelines by the end of this year.

While no carriers currently offer cash to make up for delays and cancellations, some do offer other forms of repayment. JetBlue, for example, gives passengers frequent-flyer miles, travel credits, or vouchers when they have to wait three hours or more due to a delay or cancellation under the airline’s control. Alaska Airlines similarly offers travel credits or vouchers in those sorts of situations.

U.S. airlines “have no incentive to delay or cancel a flight and do everything in their control to ensure flights depart and arrive on time, but safety is always the top priority,” trade association Airlines for America said, according to Reuters.

This is just the president’s latest move in his crackdown on air carriers after an enormous number of flight disruptions occurred last year, Reuters reported. (The Federal Aviation Administration has noted that it doesn’t have enough air-traffic-control staff, and it’s running 10 percent fewer flights than in 2019.) Among other actions, the Biden administration has investigated 10 carriers for not providing refunds and urged Southwest Airlines to do better after that company’s holiday morass, in which more than 16,000 flights were canceled.

Were a catastrophe like that to happen again, Biden’s new rules would ideally get you a hotel room and a hamburger while you wait for the next flight out of the airport.

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