President of the United States Joe Biden wants new rules to compensate airline passengers for delayed and canceled flights. It would give travelers in the US the same protection as in the EU.
Travelers in the EU have far more rights as air passengers than in the US.
In Europe, since 2004, air passengers are entitled compensation as well as free meals, hotels, and rebooking in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellation or long delays, unless it is due to “extraordinary circumstances”. The regulation is known as EU261 and it covers all passengers, regardless of nationality, on routes within or to an EU member state, even with a US airline.
After leaving the EU, Great Britain introduced a similar regulation, UK261. You can read more about UK261 in this article.
Currently, air travelers in the United States have no rights in the event of unexpected flight delays and flight cancellations.
President Joe Biden and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg presented Monday May 8, a proposal for a new rule that would require airlines to compensate air travelers and cover their meals and any overnight stay if they are stranded for reasons beyond the airline’s control.
Compensation must be a supplement to ticket refunds in cases, where the airline is responsible for a canceled or significantly delayed flight. This would give passengers in the US the same protection as in the EU.
“I know how frustrated many of you are with the service you get from your U.S. airlines, especially after you, the American taxpayer, stepped up in 2020, in the last administration, in the early days of the pandemic, to provide nearly $50 billion of assistance to keep the airline industry and its employees afloat,” Biden said during the presentation in The White House. “You deserve more than just getting the price of your ticket (refunded) – you deserve to be fully compensated. Your time matters, the impact on your life matters.”
Biden’s pledge comes just weeks before the start of the peak summer travel season, when the number of air travelers could surpass pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.
The proposed legislation is groundbreaking for the United States
According to the proposed legislation, airlines must provide passengers with meals and financial compensation if cancellations or delays are three hours or more and under the airline’s control.
In addition to free rebooking or a refund of the ticket price, airlines must cover other costs incurred by travelers, such as accommodation, meals and transportation.
In addition, air passengers will be entitled to payment in the form of cash, miles or travel vouchers.
“When an airline causes a flight cancellation or delay, passengers should not foot the bill,” Buttigieg said while at the press release May 8.
The new rules will also define exactly what a denied boarding, cancellation and delay covers, which makes it more difficult for airlines to deflect responsibility.
The US Department of Transportation, DOT, is still working out the details of how much travelers can expect to be compensated or how claims will be handled.
If the proposed legislation is implemented, it will be the first time in American history that airlines are obligated to compensate and care for passengers.
In presenting the new rules, Biden highlighted a new study from the journal Transport Policy that showed EU261 had had a positive impact on air traffic in Europe.
The study concluded that the European passenger rights regulation had improved service quality by reducing departure delays and increasing airlines’ on-time performance.