• Wed. Oct 5th, 2022

US government launches platform that will allow passengers to compare air services

ByKimberly A. Brochu

Aug 22, 2022

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With the current chaos affecting air travel lately, have you ever wondered which airline would be the “safest” to book, based on the benefits they offer in the event of a delay or cancellation? Soon, the US government will launch an online platform allowing the Americans to do just that, and to do better informed decisions when planning a trip.

Asian young female traveler looking happy as she checks her mobile phone at the airport

As the world reopened after Covid and millions flocked to airports, particularly after the US dropped the controversial inbound testing requirement, industry operators finally realized, perhaps be a bit too late, that they were unprepared to deal with pent-up travel demand in the midst of a crippling labor shortage and other operational issues.

Consequently, throughout the summer, thousands of flights were canceled or did not take off as planned, with some carriers even blatantly refuse to refund customers. Now the government is finally stepping in:

Male air passenger photographed inside an airplane, air travel concept

Buttigieg wants to increase customer protection amid travel chaos

After having been personally affected Faced with the wave of cancellations which is hampering the recovery of the aviation sector, the American Secretary of Transport, Pete Buttigieg, decided to take matters into his own hands and challenged the airlines on their behavior. According to Buttigieg himself, this wave of flight cancellations is “unacceptable” and carriers must take responsibility for this.

Reuters reports that the Transportation Secretary has sent a letter of reprimand to airline executives, from those at the regional level all the way to the top of the chain, warning that the US government is considering a new set of laws that’expand air passenger rights‘. Essentially, Buttigieg wants travelers to be able to access:

Young female traveler reading on her tablet or electronic device while waiting to board an airplane at the airport, air travel concept
  • Clear information regarding an airline’s flight cancellation policies
  • Food vouchers when flights are delayed 3 hours or more
  • Accommodation while staying at the airport overnight due to airline-controlled delays

If such a law were to be implemented, it would be a landmark event in American aviation history. Currently, US carriers are not required to provide passengers with free meals or hotel accommodations when they cannot meet their own schedule. Although they are not legally required to do so, the majority of them offer compensation out of simple decency.

Air passenger wearing a face mask as he observes a plane through the glass facade of the airport terminal, international travel concept

This does not change the fact that it is not a right and therefore can be denied at the discretion of an airline. It’s a scary thought, and Buttigieg agrees air passengers urgently need more protection. This year, around 24% of flights operated by US carriers have been delayed, raising fears that airlines may eventually stop honoring their part of the deal.

An agreement that does not exist on paper, by the way. Additionally, the Secretary of Transportation has confirmed that the U.S. government is launching a new dashboard on September 2, just before Labor Day weekend, allowing Americans to check exactly how each carrier plans to reimburse their cancellation costs in the worst case :

John F Kennedy International Airport in New York, USA

Everything we know so far about the launch of the new interactive platform

As Buttigieg shared, the “interactive” dashboard would compile ‘easy to read’, comparative information about the services that each major US airline provides in the event of a flight delay or cancellation on a single online site. He did not share in detail how the information will be displayed, or how exactly users can go about viewing it.

Young couple looking at computer while booking air tickets

All we know so far is that it will be based on “airline customer service plans”, since Buttigieg specifically told CEOs in his letter that this was their opportunity to ensure that their customer service plan “guarantees adequate facilities and services” to help passengers through inconveniences. . Interestingly, as far as we are concerned, it is the first initiative of its kind by the government.

Previously, airlines could operate without the watchful eye of Washington, though their current underperformance has led to increased scrutiny. The fact that the Transport Secretary is actively defending passenger rights, as well as the launch of a promising comparative scoreboard, are two indications the government is siding with the customers for once.

Young female traveler checking her phone at the airport

It remains to be seen whether the novelty will live up to expectations and actually prove useful over time. This is the first time we’ve heard of a national government collecting data to help citizens plan their trips, and certainly a unusual move for the Ministry of Transport. What’s more: Washington is not alone in its confrontation with the aviation giants.

North of the border, Ottawa also had a few tricks up its sleeve:

North American governments are helping their citizens

American and Canadian flags flying side by side

The Canadian government drafted its own laws requiring airlines to reimburse passengers for cancellations, including those outside their control, after Canada was criticized for being, at the time, an epicenter of chaos summer trips. Of course, Washington has not gone that far yet, but it is certainly move closer to a poorly regulated market.

Finally, Buttigieg is crafting other rules that would require carriers to reimburse travelers when their luggage is delayed or lost, and prohibit them from charging extra fees when families ask to sit together on planes. Besides the interactive dashboard, coming in September, the remaining proposals are just that: proposals.

American traveler holding up two US passports as he uses his computer, booking a plane or checking in for a flight

They need to be assessed andd they can either be enshrined in law or completely rejected. We will keep you posted once new information is shared by the Department of Transportation.

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This article originally appeared on Travel Off Path. For the latest breaking news that will affect your upcoming trip, please visit: Traveloffpath.com

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