Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest and United are committing to providing better customer service, especially if they can’t get you to your destination on time.
This includes giving stranded passengers meals and hotel rooms when the airlines are to blame for substantial flight delays or cancellations.
Starting Thursday, a new U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) website will be available for travelers to learn about their legal rights if an airline cancels or drastically delays their flight.
They can also compare the customer service practices of other airlines.
As Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg explained in an interview with NPR last week, the move is in response to this summer’s air travel turmoil, which included several flight delays and cancelations.
Since Memorial Day weekend, airlines have canceled more than 50,000 flights and delayed more than half a million, according to data from flight tracking website FlightAware.com.
According to the Ministry of Transport, the main causes of flight delays and cancelations this year were not weather or air traffic control problems, but operational and scheduling problems of airlines.
The Transportation Secretary explained that certain actions taken by airlines are mandated by legislation or by DOT standards, such as refunds for canceled flights.
“If you get canceled for any reason — you don’t take your flight — they have to offer you a cash refund. If you’d rather take miles or a different flight, fine. But that’s up to you, not them. They’ve got to give you a refund. That’s a basic rule,” Buttigieg said.
Buttigieg also argued that when flights are considerably delayed or canceled, airlines should make accommodations for passengers and pay for meals. Currently, some airlines do and some do not, but the majority are not entirely transparent about their plans.
“A lot of the airlines are not quite transparent about how and when they’ll take care of passengers,” Buttigieg continued. “So we’re going to put that information out ourselves” in the form of an online dashboard that Buttigieg says will clarify passengers’ rights. It will also allow travelers to compare airlines and see what additional services airlines have promised if flights are canceled or delayed due to airline problems.
The list of benefits includes “Rebook passenger on the same airline at no additional cost” and “Rebook passenger on another airline at no additional cost,” as well as meals, hotel accommodations and ground travel for delays of more than three hours or cancellations that strand passengers overnight.