In another win for travelers, several major US carriers are finally committing to providing delayed passengers with things like hotel rooms and meals amid pressure from the DoT.
Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, recently told airlines to update their policies for delays within their control or risk stricter regulations from the top down. “We are also contemplating options for rulemaking that would further expand the rights of airline passengers who experience disruptions,” he said in an Aug. 19th letter to airline executives.
Buttigieg’s major ask is for carriers to make their policies clear to customers by outlining their policies in writing. One key change Buttigieg asked airlines to make was to guarantee customers meal vouchers for airline-caused delays that are three hours or longer.
Several airlines, including American, JetBlue, United, Delta, and Southwest, have already outlined their own policies on meal vouchers and hotel rooms, providing a welcome change for travelers who are often left confused by unclear policies and tedious customer service experiences.
In response to the DoT’s warnings, many airlines are taking the time to show that they have been trying to improve the flying experience for passengers. In a letter to Buttigieg, Delta Air Lines’ CEO illustrated the carrier’s efforts to help passengers in the wake of disruptions.
Delta refunded travelers a total of $6 billion since the beginning of 2020 with one-fifth of those refunds happening in 2022. It also took other measures to help inconvenienced customers by including extra miles and modifying their flight schedules.
While the post-pandemic travel chaos has been unprecedented, it’s an encouraging and long-awaited sign for travelers that airlines are finally willing to set and stand by their policies.