22 December 2022- As families and airlines nationwide prepare for the bustling holiday travel season, Attorney General Josh Shapiro is urging the U.S. Department of Transportation to strengthen protections for airline consumers and provide meaningful relief to those whose flights are unexpectedly canceled or significantly delayed.
“We all know how stressful travel can be, particularly during the holidays,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Traveling always comes with turbulence, but my office has heard from hundreds of Pennsylvanians over the past few years who have encountered unnecessary challenges to their airline travel. I am hopeful that the U.S. Department of Transportation will step in to ensure travelers receive the protections they deserve when their rights are violated.”
In today’s letter regarding the department’s proposed new rules for airline ticket refunds and consumer protections, the coalition of Attorneys General urge the USDOT to adopt a new framework that ensures that it responds to and addresses concerns brought to the agency by state Attorneys General promptly, and to develop clearer protocols to ensure timely and effective enforcement. Recommendations in the letter include the following:
- USDOT should require airlines to advertise and sell only flights that they have adequate personnel to fly and support, and perform regular audits of airlines to ensure compliance and impose fines on airlines that do not comply;
- USDOT should make clear that it will impose significant fines for cancellations and extended delays that are not weather-related or otherwise unavoidable;
- USDOT should prohibit airlines from canceling flights while upselling consumers more expensive alternative flights to the same destinations; and
- USDOT should require that credits and vouchers for future travel that are provided by airlines in the event of cancellation can be used easily without inappropriate limitations.
Last month, the federal transportation department fined several airlines and ordered refunds to consumers who were treated unfairly during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. AG Shapiro, whose office has received about 500 consumer complaints about airline carriers since 2019, said his office will continue to monitor these concerns from consumers.
The Attorneys General from Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, and New York led the letter to USDOT. Joining them are the Attorneys General of Alaska, California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.