Airlines required to refund passengers for canceled, delayed flights

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced the new rules on Wednesday.

Good news for air travelers: The Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that it is implementing new rules that will require airlines to automatically refund passengers in the event of canceled or significantly delayed flights.

“This is a great day for American travelers,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said at a news conference Wednesday morning. Buttigieg said the new rules — which require prompt refunds — constitute the largest expansion of passenger rights in the department’s history.

Airlines can no longer decide how long a delay lasts before a refund is issued. Under the new DOT rules, covered delays would be more than three hours for domestic flights and more than six hours for international flights, the agency said.

This includes tickets purchased directly from airlines, travel agents and third-party sites such as Expedia and Travelocity.

DOT rules state that passengers will be “entitled to a refund if their flight is canceled or significantly changed, and they do not accept alternative transportation or travel credits offered.”

The DOT will also require airlines to reimburse you in cash if your luggage is lost and not delivered within 12 hours.

Refunds must be made within seven days, according to new DOT rules, and must be in cash unless the passenger chooses another form of compensation. Airlines can no longer provide refunds in the form of vouchers or credits when consumers are entitled to cash.

Airlines will have six months to comply with the new rules.

“Passengers deserve to get their money back when an airline owes them — without the headaches or haggling,” Buttigieg said in a statement.

The DOT said it is also working on rules related to family seat fees, strengthening wheelchair passengers’ rights for safe and dignified travel and requiring compensation and amenities if flights are delayed or canceled by airlines. aerial.

Buttigieg said the DOT also protects airline passengers from surprises caused by hidden fees — a move he said will bring billions of dollars to Americans each year.

DOT rules provide that passengers will receive a refund for additional services paid for and not provided, such as Wi-Fi, seat selection or in-flight entertainment.

The rules come after the agency fined Southwest Airlines a record $140 million for its operational collapse during the 2022 holiday travel season.

Buttigieg said Southwest’s fine sets a “new standard” for airlines and passenger rights.

“To be clear, we want the airline industry to thrive. That’s why we’ve invested so much in helping them survive the pandemic and honestly, that’s why we’re so rigorous about protecting passengers,” did he declare.

Buttigieg reiterated that refund requirements are already the norm for airlines, but the DOT’s new rules hold airlines accountable and ensure passengers get the “refunds they are owed.”

“The airlines are not enthusiastic about us holding them to higher standards,” Buttigieg said, adding that he “knew they would be able to adapt to that.”

Airlines for America, the trade association for the nation’s major passenger and cargo airlines, told ABC News in a statement that its members “offer a range of options, including fully refundable fares.” It says consumers have “the choice of refundable ticket options with terms and conditions that best suit their needs from the top search results.”

The group said the 11 largest U.S. airlines refunded $43 billion to customers between 2020 and 2023, up from nearly $11 billion in refunds last year.

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Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe.Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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