Airlines critical of DOT’s latest effort to publicize flight delay compensation

Airlines critical of DOT’s latest effort to publicize flight delay compensation

(CNN) — Major US airlines are criticizing the Biden administration’s latest plans to publicly pressure them into offering additional passenger benefits.

The group that represents the nation’s largest air carriers, Airlines for America, says the Department of Transportation’s latest ask of air carriers involves delayed passengers and would be “punitive” rather than provide transparency to customers.

“We support practical solutions that will actually improve the customer experience and strengthen operations across the National Airspace System — this latest request by the Department of Transportation is not one of those,” Airlines for America said.

Ahead of the busy Labor Day weekend, DOT rolled out a so-called dashboard specifying what benefits the 10 largest US airlines have committed to provide travelers when flights are interrupted.

The dashboard was launched in response to a summer that saw nearly 56,000 flight cancellations, and when airlines and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg were sparring over whose staffing issues were most to blame for the mess. The White House said launching the dashboard pressured airlines to improve their fine print policies.

But airlines are taking exception to the DOT’s plans to add additional information to the dashboard.

Airlines for America and the Department of Transportation declined to comment on the specifics of the government’s request and plans. Reuters reported the ask is that airlines commit to providing travelers who they delay by more than three hours with credits, frequent flier points or $100. Reuters said airlines were asked to respond to the request by Monday.

Airlines for America said the update “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.”

DOT said that its dashboard helps travelers understand airlines’ customer service commitments, which “were hard to find and really hard to interpret.” A spokesman declined to comment specifically on this next update.

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

“We’ll continue to have the traveling public’s back and work to increase transparency so Americans know exactly what the airlines are providing when they have a cancellation or delay.”

Top image: Travelers wait at Newark Liberty International Airport on July 1, 2022, in Newark, New Jersey. (Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)