Blasts industry-backed effort to block his “Good Jobs for Good Airports Act” to protect airport service workers

Washington (February 8, 2024) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and longtime champion for consumer and worker protections, released the following statement today after the Commerce Committee voted to advance the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act. The bill includes Senator Markey’s provisions to ban fees for families traveling together, guarantee refunds for flight cancellations and delays, and invest in airport climate resilience. Although the bill also includes a study on the wages and benefits of airport service workers, Senator Markey continued to urge the Committee to enact his Good Jobs for Good Airports Act legislation, which would have guaranteed stronger wages and benefits for the lowest-paid airport workers:

“Today’s vote helped to advance critical consumer protections and to protect our airports from the serious threat of climate change. I am proud that the FAA reauthorization bill bans family seating fees, establishes a $1.5 billion airport resiliency program, and advances other important consumer protections. These provisions are critical to modernizing our aviation system and ensuring it can provide high-quality, affordable service to passengers.

“High-quality service, however, isn’t possible without fair wages for the aviation workforce. When we fly, we depend on airport service workers at every step of our journey. Without them, our luggage gets lost, our stomachs go empty, and individuals with disabilities are left to navigate crowded terminals without accommodation. Unsurprisingly, research shows that when these workers are well-paid, turnover plummets, airports run more smoothly, and everyone is safer. These workers are underpaid and overworked, and today the Committee had a chance to deliver for them by adopting my Good Jobs for Good Airports Act. Instead, due to industry opposition, it came up short.

“While the FAA Reauthorization bill includes a study on airport service workers, a study will not put food on their tables. I have a commitment from Chair Cantwell to continue the fight to make sure airport service workers receive tangible protections. Moving forward, I will make sure every member of the Senate and House of Representatives gets this message: We are not backing down. The outcome of today’s FAA vote is a setback, but it is not a defeat. I will continue to fight with our union partners for these workers and the passage of my Good Jobs for Good Airports legislation in the 118th Congress.”

Senator Markey’s provisions in the FAA Reauthorization Act include:

  • Bans family seating fees, based on his Families Fly Together Act
  • Establishes a $1.5 billion airport resiliency grant program, based on his Airport Infrastructure Resilience Act
  • Creates a GAO study on airline resilience, based on his Airline Operational Resiliency Act
  • Requires that flight vouchers expire at least five years from the date of issuance, based on his years of oversight of airlines use of flight vouchers and credits 
  • Increases the civil penalty for aviation consumer protection violations to $75,000
  • Codifies the Department of Transportation’s refunds regulations, which follows his years of advocacy around protecting the rights of consumers to receive refunds from cancelled flights 
  • Requires the Department of Transportation to do a new rulemaking on unrealistic or deceptive rules, based on his oversight of airline flight delays and cancellations
  • Mandates disclosure of ancillary fees from airlines, which mirrors provisions from his FAIR Fees Act
  • Creates transparency disclosures for airline passenger rights and secures frequent flyer protections, which mirror provisions in his and Senator Blumenthal’s Airline Passenger Bill of Rights