• Wed. Oct 5th, 2022

“A phase of transformation”: changes could occur in the airline industry

ByKimberly A. Brochu

Aug 23, 2022

EAST PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – Travelers are growing increasingly frustrated with their flights being canceled or delayed.

Lori Kiley-Garcia struggled to find a new flight to California after Breeze Airways canceled her trip with little to no explanation.

“I felt like I had a stomach ache,” Kiley-Garcia said. “I was so nervous.”

Kiley-Garcia was told to go online and find out when Breeze Airways would offer flights to Los Angeles from TF Green International Airport.

“When I did, there were no other flights and it was February 2023,” she recalls.

The situation was similar for Rob Almeida, who was forced to miss his sister’s wedding in Europe. In Almeida’s case, he was unable to get a refund in time to book another flight.

“I know my sister is upset because she [didn’t] ask my dad to walk her down the aisle,” he said. “She’s also upset because [I wasn’t] there either,” Almeida said.

These circumstances are neither unique nor rare. That’s why the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) is pushing airlines to change their business practices to better protect travelers.

The Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (ACPAC) discussed these proposed changes in a virtual meeting on Monday.

The USDOT proposal aims to define specific situations as to when travelers can get their money back.

These significant changes would include:

  • Changes that affect departure and/or arrival times by three hours or more for a domestic flight or six hours or more for an international flight;
  • Changes at the departure or arrival airport;
  • Changes that increase the number of connections in the route; and
  • Changes to the type of aircraft used if this results in a significant degradation of the air travel experience or the amenities available on board the flight.

If another incident occurs, such as a government travel ban, the proposal ensures flyers will receive credits or vouchers, just as they have during the pandemic.

The proposal would also ensure that travelers whose flights are canceled or significantly changed receive refunds quickly and efficiently.

Airlines and ticket agents would be required to issue refunds within seven days if the flight was booked with a credit card, and 20 days if purchased with cash or cheque.

Committee member Mario Rodriguez said this is a pivotal time to make changes.

“I would call it a transformation phase,” Rodriguez said. “I believe the work of this committee is more important today than it was before COVID.”

The committee plans to submit its recommendations later this year.