After months of relentless battle with the airlines industry, the Biden administration has finally succeeded in getting deal from the country's airlines industry where many of them have agreed to resolve some of the frustrating and painful experiences that passengers face.
"Our top priority has been to get American air travellers a better deal. We've made real progress," Biden said as he announced the results of his engagement with the airlines industry.
"Historically, when delays and cancellations are the airline's fault, the law has only required airlines to refund customers the price of their flight ticket but not the cost of meals or hotels or transportation when you get left in limbo," he said.
"In fact, a year ago, almost no major airline guaranteed any compensation beyond the price of the ticket if they caused the delay. No reimbursement for a hotel after a cancelled flight or a meal after a delayed flight.
"But then we challenged them to do better. And, in fact, they did. Airlines started to change their policies when they're at fault for cancelling or delaying a flight," he said.
The President asserted that nine major airlines now cover hotels, 10 cover meals, 10 rebook for free. "And that's real savings for middle-class and working-class families. For example, to rebook fees, it could run as high as USD 200 per ticket." "Now you don't have to pay anything to rebook for most airlines. And that USD 200 is back in your pocket -- even more if you're travelling with your family," Biden said in his address to the nation from the White House.
Biden said major airlines -- American Airlines, Alaskan Airlines, and Frontier Airlines -- have agreed to address family seating so parents can sit with their children without paying an additional charge. United Airlines also took important steps towards guaranteeing free family seating beyond not -- in other words, no cost beyond the cost of the -- the original cost of the ticket, he announced.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) also announced plans on Monday to launch a new rulemaking that is aimed at requiring airlines to provide compensation and cover expenses for amenities such as meals, hotels, and rebooking when airlines are responsible for stranding passengers.
After a two-year DOT push to improve the passenger experience, the 10 largest airlines guarantee meals and free rebooking on the same airline and nine guarantee hotel accommodations as part of the Department's Airline Customer Service Dashboard. DOT expanded the dashboard Monday at FlightRights.Gov to highlight which airlines currently offer cash compensation, provide travel credits or vouchers, or award frequent flyer miles when they cause flight delays or cancellations.
"When an airline causes a flight cancellation or delay, passengers should not foot the bill," said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "This rule would, for the first time in US 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," he said.
Biden also announced that DOT will launch an expanded Airline Customer Service Dashboard at FlightRights.gov that highlights which airlines currently offer cash compensation, provide travel credits or vouchers, or award frequent flyer miles and cover the costs for other amenities.
While FlightRights.gov will show progress on improved airline customer service policies, it will also make clear that virtually no airlines offer compensation on top of refunds or amenities. Specifically, FlightRights.gov will show that only one airline guarantees frequent flyer miles, and that two airlines guarantee travel credits or vouchers as compensation if passengers experience significant delays or cancellations that are caused by something within the airline's control such as a mechanical issue.
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