[WASHINGTON, DC] – Amidst the busy summer travel season, U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) joined Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to introduce comprehensive legislation to expand protections for American air travelers. In addition to many other protections, the Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights would require airlines to pay at least $1,350 to passengers denied boarding as a result of an oversold flight, prevent airlines from shrinking their seats until the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) sets a minimum standard for seat size, and require airlines refund bag fees immediately for damaged or lost bags.
This legislation builds on the progress Blumenthal and Senate Commerce Committee Democrats have made in this area, both in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 and the 2016 FAA extension.
“Whether it’s growing fees or shrinking seats, the rights and needs of air travelers are frequently and flagrantly ignored by airlines. This significant legislation would bolster the rights of air passengers and ensure tougher, much-needed oversight of the airline industry,” Blumenthal said. “For far too long, airlines have raked in billions by squeezing every possible cent from their customers. Everyone – regardless of age, ability, or income – deserves the right to comfortable air travel. It’s time to pass an air passengers’ bill of rights to protect consumers and restore sanity to the skies.”
“Exorbitant checked bag and change fees, frequent IT meltdowns, airline consolidation, and growing dissatisfaction with the flying experience make a passengers’ bill of rights as important as a boarding pass. Ensuring that airline customers have basic consumer rights every time they fly is a requirement in the 21st century. The Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights gives passengers control over their flying experience, returning fairness to the friendly skies,” Markey said.
“Excessive and unexpected fees, delays and cancellations, overbooked planes—almost everyone who has flown has experienced the need for a ‘Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights,” Wyden said. “For too long, the FAA has knuckled under the airline industry. It’s time to stand up for the rights of all air passengers and against excessive airline fees by ensuring ironclad consumer protections for air travel.”
“Flying is an important method of transportation and should be safe and accessible to all. That is why I am cosponsoring the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights. The bill includes important provisions to make airline travel more accessible to people with disabilities and to hold airlines accountable to provide safe and equitable service for everyone,” Casey said.
“Airlines have been able to physically and financially squeeze passengers for too long. Our Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights establishes a baseline for making air travel safe, affordable, and reliable for the millions of Americans who fly every day,” said Whitehouse. “Our bill would help end the abusive practices that currently make air travel an unpleasant experience for many passengers, building on a law we passed last year directing the FAA to set a minimize seat size.”
The Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights would protect air travelers by:
Providing Compensation for Involuntary Denied Boarding
Stopping Airlines from Endangering Safety by Shrinking Seats
Bolstering the Transparency of Passengers’ Rights
Requiring Airlines to Refund Tickets and Compensate Passengers for Delays and Cancellations Caused by the Airlines
Protecting Basic Humanity on Planes
Grounding Sky-High Nickel-and-Dime Fees
Restoring Consumers’ Rights to Pursue Claims against Airlines
Bolstering DOT’s Enforcement against the Airline Industry
Addressing Lack of Meaningful Competition in the Airline Industry