Aug 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

In a summer of canceled flights, lawmakers seek to crack down on airlines

A screen displays Southwest Airlines' extensive flight cancellations at Chicago Midway International Airport. Photo: Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Two U.S. House Democrats proposed a measure Tuesday that would make it illegal for airlines to offer flights when they know they don't have enough staff.

Why it matters: After two years of pandemic-related travel frustrations and a summer of canceled flights, the measure is the latest push by lawmakers to regulate the aviation industry.

Details: Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) proposed making it unlawful for airlines to offer flights if they know they don't have sufficient staffing, or to cancel flights close to scheduled departures, Reuters reports.

  • The two Congress members said the measure would give the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general new powers to act.
  • The measure would repeal an existing exemption that passenger airlines received from under a 1958 law.

What they're saying: "Stronger enforcement of the airline industry is urgently needed," Schakowsky said, per Reuters.

  • "The airline industry must be held accountable for the harm they are causing: the missed life events, time separated from family and friends, and the stress of navigating a travel system that isn’t putting consumers first," she added.

Flashback: The Department of Transportation last week proposed new protections for travelers, including requiring airlines to provide vouchers that don't expire to passengers unable to fly for pandemic-related reasons.

  • The department said it has been flooded with complaints about air travel services since the onset of the pandemic.
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