Airlines balk at DOT’s idea for delay compensation
Airlines

Airlines balk at DOT’s idea for delay compensation

Airlines for America (A4A) — a trade group representing the largest U.S. carriers — is criticizing the Department of Transportation’s proposed plan to update its customer service dashboard to show if carriers will voluntarily compensate passengers for lengthy delays, arguing that it will raise travel costs. 

The government is pushing air carriers to voluntarily commit to compensate passengers for lengthy delays that are within the airlines’ control. It’s also hoping to post that information on its recently launched customer service dashboard, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. 

United flight board

Travelers check departure screens for their flight status at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh / AP Newsroom)

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The dashboard was launched last month to help travelers understand what guarantees, refunds or compensation “U.S. airlines provide to mitigate passenger inconveniences when the cause of a cancelation or delay was due to circumstances within the airline’s control.” The goal of this dashboard was to spark competition among airlines to offer the most transparency and the best protections for customers. 

Currently, airlines are not required by law to compensate passengers for delayed or canceled flights, according to the DOT. 

A passenger wears a face mask to help prevent against the spread of the coronavirus as he waits for a Delta Air Lines flight at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File / AP Newsroom)

Major U.S. carriers deferred to A4A for comment. 

The trade group claims the DOT’s latest request would not only raise the cost of travel for all passengers but “goes beyond the scope and intent of the Dashboard by proposing punitive measures rather than offering improvements to transparency that would benefit the consumer.” 

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While the trade group says it supports “practical solutions that will actually improve the customer experience and strengthen operations across the National Airspace System,” it claims the “latest request by the Department of Transportation is not one of those.” 

The group further argued the request “threatens to cause unnecessary, additional confusion for the traveling public regarding the range of reasons and causes for delays, which include weather and air traffic control staffing” and that it does not acknowledge the “significant progress that the industry has made.”

flight delays

A traveler checks an information screen for flight status at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Ill., Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File / AP Newsroom)

The group says the cancelation rate for airlines has been 0.7% over the past two months, excluding impacts from Hurricane Ian.

However, a spokesperson for the DOT told FOX Business that before the department launched its dashboard “customer service plans were hard to find and really hard to interpret.” 

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“Now, because of DOT’s work on the dashboard, American travelers have greater transparency and better customer service plans that guarantee them more services,” the spokesperson added. 

The department promised to continue working “to increase transparency so Americans know exactly what the airlines are providing when they have a cancellation or delay.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.