May 8, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Biden proposes new air travel rules to compensate passengers

Travelers make their way through Orlando International Airport during the busy Christmas holiday season on December 28, 2022 in Orlando, Florida

Travelers make their way through Orlando International Airport on Dec. 28, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Biden announced on Monday that the Department of Transportation is launching an effort aimed at compensating passengers for cancelled flights and delays within the airline's control.

The big picture: The announcement comes amid months of finger pointing between Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the airline industry over persistent travel woes.

What they're saying: "I know how frustrated many of you are with the service you get from your U.S. airlines, especially after you, the American taxpayer, stepped up in 2020 — in the last administration in the early days of the pandemic — to provide nearly $50 billion in assistance to keep the airline industry and its employees afloat," Biden said,

  • "That's why our top priority has been to get American air travelers a better deal," Biden added.

Driving the news: "This rule would, for the first time in U.S. history, propose to require airlines to compensate passengers and cover expenses such as meals, hotels, and rebooking in cases where the airline has caused a cancellation or significant delay," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

  • The proposed rules would also require airlines to provide timely customer service during flight disruptions, a White House official said Sunday.
  • "When an airline causes a flight cancellation or delay, passengers should not foot the bill," Buttigieg said in a statement.

The big picture: The process to implement the rules could take months, if not years, per the Washington Post.

  • It is also not clear whether compensation for cancellations would apply to weather-related cancellations and delays.

What to watch: The DOT is also launching a website Monday, called, which aims to highlight which airlines offer cash compensation, provide travel credits or vouchers, or award frequent flyer miles and cover the costs for other amenities.

Go deeper... Why air travel has been a huge mess lately

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