WSJ - The U.S. Department of Transportation should increase its oversight and regulation of airlines to address a skyrocketing number of flight issues in airports across the country, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg made public Wednesday.
Ms. James called for investigations, potentially leading to fines if airlines deliberately book flights despite staff shortages. “Airlines knowingly advertising and booking flights they do not have the adequate staff to operate are flying in the face of the law,” she said.
Flight cancellations have hit New York-area airports particularly hard. Nearly 8% of departures from Newark Liberty International and 7.2% of departures from LaGuardia Airport during the period from June 1 to June 12 were canceled, according to FlightAware LLC. Both figures were steep rises from 2019. A spokeswoman for Ms. James said her office isn’t contemplating taking any enforcement action on its own.
Lawmakers have applied pressure on Mr. Buttigieg over ongoing flight problems, urging him to consider fines and other legal action to make delays and cancellations more costly for the airlines. The industry, which cut large numbers of staff as the coronavirus pandemic grounded travelers, has strained to keep up with a resurgent travel demand.
U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Alex Padilla (D., Calif.) last week urged Mr. Buttigieg to meet persistent failures for flights to depart on time—or at all—with fines, accusing airlines that sell tickets on flights they know are unlikely to operate of effectively deceiving consumers.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) in June similarly called for refunds for short delays, and for fines on airlines for delays over two hours. He also demanded fines of $55,000 per passenger for cancellations that stem from staffing problems known to an airline.
Asked for comment, a Transportation Department representative said airlines that fail to meet their responsibilities “will be held accountable.”
Well, well, well.
All those horror stories we hear about people being stuck in steel tubes for hours upon hours just sitting out on tarmacs going nowhere? They could finally be a thing of the past.
Just earlier this week, the Transportation Department tightened rules for airline refunds for bad delays.
Under proposed rules released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation, airlines would be required to refund travelers if a flight’s departure or arrival time shifts by three hours or more for a domestic flight, and six hours more for an international flight and the traveler no longer wants to fly.
The proposal would also require airlines to issue vouchers that don’t expire to customers who don’t want to fly because of public health concerns or face restrictions like stay home orders or border closures.
Now it looks like the NY State Attorney General is looking to take it a step further.
Pay no attention to crazy Bernie Sanders shooting for the moon and "demanding fines of $55,000 per passenger" (which if passed, you could delay my ass for a week and I'd be happy as a clam), the real takeaway here is the US is FINALLY getting up to speed with where Europe has been for years on this.
The EU Regulation 261/2004 establishes minimum rights for passengers when they are denied boarding against their will, their flight is cancelled, or their flight is delayed.
Passengers whose flight is delayed should be offered food and drinks. If the flight is delayed overnight, the passenger should be offered accommodation as well.
Every passenger has the right to claim compensation if the air carrier did not inform them on time for the delay.
Every person whose flight, which falls under the EU Regulation, was delayed for more than three hours has the right to claim compensation.
If your flight has recently been delayed, you will have the right to ask the air carrier for the compensation if you have a confirmed reservation on the flight concerned and one of the following applies to you:
- You presented yourself for check-in, at the time indicated in advance and in writing by the air carrier, the tour operator or an authorized travel agent (if no time is indicated not later than 45 minutes before the published departure time)
- You were transferred by an air carrier or tour operator from the flight for which they held a reservation to another flight, irrespective of the reason.
The compensation for a flight delay ranges between €250 and €600 per passenger. How much you will be compensated depends on the distance of the journey, as follows:
- €250 for flights shorter than 1500 km.
- €400 for flights between 1500 km and 3500 km. If your flight took off and arrived in the EU, this is the amount of compensation even for flights over 3500 km.
- €600 for distances over 3500 km. If the delay lasts between three and four hours, your reimbursement could be reduced in half in this case.
Note that the reimbursement shall be paid in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques or, with your signed agreement, in travel vouchers and/or other services.
Not too shabby right?
By those numbers, had this law been in place in Canada, our good friend Ryan Whitney would have probably been rewarded a few hundred thousand loonies for what he endured there a couple months ago.
Not that this makes missing a flight, being where you're supposed to be, or being 6 hours late somewhere and spending those 6 hours crammed next to savages worth it. But at the very least, this at least keeps those scumbag airline operators honest and holds their feet to the fire. US Airlines have been operating with impunity basically since day 1. We are at their fucking mercy with pretty much zero recourse whatsoever. Hopefully not anymore.
Not trying to single anybody out unjustly here, just being honest. But I think if this passes then American Airlines should just fold the company, liquidate everything, and call it a day. There is no way they survive this passing. They better pony up all their government bailout funds they're still sitting on and hire the best lobbyists money can buy to fight this thing. Because if this passes, and they're subject to these fines, they'll be bankrupt by the end of the month. Can't remember the last American Flight I was on that wasn't delayed at least leaving or arriving. If not both ways. What makes matters worse is they're the absolute worst customer service-wise as well which is basically just spitting in your face after kicking you in the nuts. Will be great to see them get theirs.
p.s. - what will this mean for Big Cat's twitter enforcement?