Updated Aug 19, 2022 - Economy

Buttigieg urges airlines to help stranded, delayed passengers

Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has called on 10 of the biggest U.S. airlines to help stranded and delayed passengers.

The big picture: Buttigieg said in letters sent to major air carriers on Thursday that recent travel disruptions have been "unacceptable," and warned that the Department of Transportation might adopt new rules to help passengers who are facing heavy cancellations and delayed flights amid a summer of revenge travel.

Driving the news: Buttigieg said in one of the letters obtained by Axios that the department is "contemplating options" to create new regulations "that would further expand the rights" of air travelers.

  • He told airlines to adopt customer service plans that guarantee support to passengers facing travel problems, such as meal vouchers for delays of three or more hours.
  • Airlines should also provide lodging accommodations, Buttigieg said, to passengers who need to wait overnight for a new flight.
  • The transportation department told Axios that all U.S. carriers received a version of the letter.

What they're saying: "The message to the airlines is that you’ve got to make it easier for passengers to understand their rights," Buttigieg told NBC’s Today show. "And you’ve got to support passengers when they experience delays or cancellations."

State of play: Air travel has been difficult for Americans this summer. Thousands of flights have been delayed or canceled, a trend that has continued through the beginning of August, CBS News reports.

  • Around 24% of all U.S. flights were delayed in the first six months of 2022, and 3.2% have been canceled, Buttigieg noted in the letter.

Flashback: Buttigieg warned airlines in an interview with the Associated Press in June that his department could take enforcement actions against airlines.

What's next: Buttigieg said in the letter that the DOT is launching an "interactive dashboard" on its website where customers can find "easy-to-read, comparative summary information" on the support U.S. airlines offer when issues within their control cause travel disruptions. The dashboard goes live by Sept. 2, the letter said.

Go deeper: Air travel hits pandemic record despite airline chaos

Editor's note: This piece was corrected to show the DOT is launching an interactive dashboard on its website (not that it's creating the website).

Go deeper