The Department of Transportation announced new proposed rules for the airline industry that would make it easier for customers to garner refunds for flights delayed or significantly changed.
The Transportation Department has required airlines to offer refunds when flights are canceled or “significantly changed.” Under a new proposal from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, those would now include:
- Changes that affect the departure and/or arrival times by three hours or more for a domestic flight or six hours or more for an international flight
- Changes to the departure or arrival airport
- Changes that increase the number of connections in the itinerary
- Changes to the type of aircraft flown if it causes a significant downgrade in the air travel experience or amenities available onboard the flight
Buttigieg said the government has received a number of complaints about the airline industry this summer on flights that were altered. He said it took time for his department to come up with rules as the airline industry casts doubts over the government’s ability to impose such edicts.
“We didn't just wake up one morning and decide to do it. It is one of a number of steps we had underway. It was actually last year when we announced the stiffest fines in the history of the Consumer Protection Program for an airline that was failing to issue refunds, and we have got about 10 investigations that have just wrapped up that are going to lead to action as well,” Buttigieg told CNN’s “New Day.” “This latest news is about a new rule that we're proposing that would expand passenger rights to things like refunds when your flight gets delayed or when you have an extreme delay or some other change to the itinerary that really changes the whole experience.”
The department is accepting public comment through the end of October on the proposed rule.