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WASHINGTON (WJW) — A new tool from the federal transportation department shows you how 10 major airlines have pledged to make flight cancellations less inconvenient.
Americans have seen “an unacceptable level” of flight delays and cancellations this year, reads a Thursday news release from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport was found to be among the 10 worst airports nationwide for flight cancellations and delays the week of Aug. 1, Forbes reported.
Though airlines’ customer service plans are supposed to offer some relief — like hotel or meal accommodations for overnight delays — those services aren’t guaranteed and the plans can be too confusing for some passengers, according to the department.
A new “one-stop” dashboard found on the department’s website breaks down the customer service commitments that 10 major airlines have made for grounded passengers. It also shows how supports differ for delays outside the airline’s control, and those that aren’t.
It’s meant to help travelers decide which airline to fly, and was published before the Labor Day weekend to encourage the airlines to improve their customer service plans, according to the release. Many have since made “significant” changes.
“Passengers deserve transparency and clarity on what to expect from an airline when there is a cancelation or disruption,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is quoted in the release. “This dashboard collects that information in one place so travelers can easily understand their rights, compare airline practices and make informed decisions. The department will continue to support passengers and to hold airlines responsible for adhering to their customer obligations.”
The dashboard shows nearly every airline offers to rebook passengers on the same airline at no extra cost or gives meal vouchers for passengers made to wait at least three hours for a new flight. Fewer offer to rebook passengers on another airline for free.
Allegiant is the only airline that did not pledge to offer anything to passengers, the dashboard shows.
You can also use the dashboard to make a public comment on a new federal transportation rule that would make it easier for fliers to get refunds if their flights are canceled or face significant delays. The rule would:
- Require airlines to tell passengers about their right to a refund when flights are canceled or delayed
- Clarify the definitions of “significant change” and cancellation
- Make airlines give non-expiring vouchers or credits to folks who can’t fly because of COVID-19 or other communicable diseases
- Require airlines that get federal funding to give refunds, rather than credits or vouchers, when passengers can’t fly due to pandemic protocols
Complaints from airline passengers doubled in the first half of this year, compared to the first half of 2021, The Hill reported. Companies have blamed mass cancelations and delayed flights on pilot shortages, high fuel costs and extreme weather, according to the report.
The transportation department’s consumer protection office has finished its investigation into 10 airlines for “extreme delays” on refunds for canceled or changed flights, and is “pursuing enforcement action,” according to the release.