The Airline Passengers’ Bill
of Rights would put in place essential consumer protections for fliers,
including passenger compensation for airline-caused delays and cancellations
& payments to passengers for oversold flights
(November 17, 2021) – Ahead of a busy holiday travel season, U.S. Senators Edward
J. Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bob Casey
(D-Penn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) reintroduced comprehensive
legislation to expand protections for air travelers. Among a host of key
consumer protections, the Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights would ensure that
airlines provide passengers with fair compensation, refunds, and recourse in
the event of airline-caused flight delays and cancellations, require airlines
to pay at least $1,350 to passengers denied boarding as a result of an oversold
flight, and mandate airlines to immediately refund bag fees for damaged or lost
checked bag and change fees, shrinking seats, flight cancellations and delays,
and growing dissatisfaction with the flying experience make a passengers’ bill
of rights as important as a boarding pass,” said Senator Markey. “Ensuring that airline customers have basic consumer
rights every time they fly is a requirement in the 21st century, especially as
we build back better from the global pandemic. The Airline Passengers’ Bill of
Rights gives passengers control over their flying experience, returning
fairness to the friendly skies.”
comprehensive bill will make the skies friendlier for airline passengers,” said Senator Blumenthal. “From
skyrocketing fees and shrinking seats to airline-caused delays and
cancellations, air travel has become stressful, unpredictable, and
uncomfortable for fliers. As passengers are nickel-and-dimed at every turn, the
airline industry has raked in billions. Americans are in dire need of stronger
consumer rights and protections, and I’m proud to lead the Airline Passengers’
Bill of Rights to restore sanity to the skies.”
“Almost everyone who has flown is familiar
with how much of a hassle air travel can be, and COVID-19 has only amplified
many of the challenges,” said Ron Wyden.
“It’s time for a new ‘Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights and to stand up for
the rights of all air passengers by ensuring ironclad consumer protections for
are subjecting passengers to ever-shrinking seats and ever-increasing fees,
leading to more stress for consumers and frontline staff who are doing their
best to keep everyone safe during the pandemic,” said Senator Whitehouse.
“Our Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights will make air travel more
predictable, affordable, and comfortable for the millions of Americans who fly
legislation expands on the advancements Markey, Blumenthal and Senate Commerce
Committee Democrats have made on this issue, both in the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 and the 2016 FAA extension,
and follows President Joe Biden’s August Executive Order directing the U.S.
Department of Transportation (DOT) to engage in a series of rulemakings to
address unfair airline baggage and in-flight service fees.
Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights would protect air travelers by:
Requiring Airlines to
Refund Tickets and Compensate Passengers for Delays and Cancellations Caused by
airlines to provide ticket refunds and alternative transportation for flights
delayed between one and four hours.
airlines to provide ticket refunds, alternate transportation, compensation, and
cover the cost of meals and lodging (as applicable) for flights delayed more
than four hours.
the DOT to facilitate interline agreements between airlines to ensure
availability of alternative flights.
down on airlines using weather as an excuse for delays and cancellations that
are actually the airlines’ fault.
for Involuntary Denied Boarding
that $1,350 is the minimum level of compensation an air carrier or foreign air
carrier must pay to a passenger who is involuntarily denied boarding as the
result of an oversold flight.
airlines to provide compensation to passengers who relinquish their seat in the
form of a cash payment.
airlines from imposing a cap on the amount of compensation provided to a
passenger for relinquishing their seat.
Stopping Airlines from
Endangering Safety by Shrinking Seats
airlines from shrinking seat size further until DOT implements a minimum seat
Transparency of Passengers’ Rights
airline employees to undergo biannual training on passengers’ rights.
that passengers receive a clear explanation of their rights at ticket purchase
and throughout travel.
Protecting Basic Humanity
that the FAA study food and water safety on aircraft and mandate drinking water
and restrooms be available free of charge.
working restrooms on all aircraft and that restrooms must accommodate
passengers with disabilities.
airlines from charging exorbitant, unnecessary fees that bear no relation to
the service provided.
airlines reveal the true costs of flying and offer lowest fares on
airlines be transparent about changes and costs associated with frequent flyer
airlines refund bag fees immediately for damaged or lost bags.
Rights to Pursue Claims against Airlines
the right of passengers to sue airlines in federal and state court for unfair
and deceptive practices.
the right of passengers with disabilities to sue airlines in federal court for
denying basic access.
process for passengers to submit airline complaints and forces airlines to
address concerns quickly.
Enforcement against the Airline Industry
the DOT to explain reasons for failing to impose penalties on airlines for
violations of passenger rights.
a study by DOT and consumer groups on the feasibility of system in which fines
on airlines go directly to passengers.
the cap on fines that DOT charges airlines for violating consumer protection
laws and prevents airlines from negotiating low, slap-on-the wrist fines for
Addressing Lack of
Meaningful Competition in the Airline Industry
a Government Accountability Office investigation into the fairness of airfares
and fees as compared to the costs of services provided on flights since the
consolidation of air carriers.