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Blumenthal Statement on Biden Administration Announcement of a Rulemaking to Require Airline Passenger Reimbursements

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), author of the Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights, released the following statement after the Biden Administration announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to initiate a rulemaking to require airlines to compensate passengers for delays and cancellations within an airline’s control and to cover certain expenses, including meals, hotels, and rebookings:

“Airline passenger protection is long overdue—which is why I’ve long advocated a statutory bill of rights—and I strongly support the Biden Administration’s step to require reimbursement for delays and cancellations. Equally important, airlines should compensate fliers for expenses like meals, hotels, and alternate transportation. As airline flight becomes more unpredictable and stressful, passengers deserve not only money back but also peace of mind. Clear rules are welcome, but enforcement is key to real results.”

Blumenthal’s comprehensive Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights, which he introduced in January with U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), would ensure that airlines provide passengers with fair compensation, refunds, and recourse in the event of airline-caused flight delays and cancellations, require airlines to pay passengers denied boarding as a result of an oversold flight, and mandate airlines to immediately refund bag fees for damaged or lost bags. The bill text can be found here.

Blumenthal has long supported strengthening airline passenger rights, including cosponsoring the FAIR Fees Act, encompassed in the Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights, which would prohibit airlines from charging unreasonably high fees for basic services like checked bags, seat selection, and ticket changes. Blumenthal joined Markey and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in submitting a comment to the DOT in November 2022, urging the agency to strengthen its proposed rule on airline refunds. Following Southwest Airlines’ cancellation of thousands of flights over the holiday season, Blumenthal joined Markey in calling for the company to provide cash payments to passengers and joined his colleagues in a letter to the company demanding answers about the cancellations.