The Biden administration seeks Congress to impose flight delay compensation

The Biden administration has introduced to Congress draft legislation that would require airlines to pay monetary compensation for delays of three hours or more when they are at fault. The proposal, which was received earlier this week, would demand "cash compensation in an amount commensurate with the inconvenience experienced" when a delay or cancellation is caused in part or entirely by a problem beyond the carrier's control. 


It comes as House and Senate committees prepare draft legislation to renew the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which could be considered as soon as next week. In May, Biden stated that the administration was developing new rules to force airlines to pay customers for major flight delays with cash, but legislation from Congress would greatly strengthen the administration's legal authority. Congress must act by September 30 to extend the FAA's legal ability to function.


The Biden administration also wants Congress to pass new legislation requiring transparency for luggage and other ancillary costs when purchasing a ticket. Last year, the Transportation Department asked airlines whether they would agree to pay at least $100 for three-hour delays caused by airlines. So yet, no one has agreed, and some airlines have openly expressed their opposition to the proposed guidelines. The USDOT has stated that it intends to establish regulations requiring airlines to fund expenditures such as meals and motels if they are liable for stranding passengers. Last August, most carriers voluntarily agreed to give motels or meals but refused to pay cash compensation for delays.


The administration also wants Congress to demand that the cockpit voice recorder recording period be increased from the existing 2-hour loop to a planned 25-hour loop for all future produced aircraft. Although there is no legal obligation for airlines to reimburse customers in the United States for delayed or canceled flights, the European Union and several other nations demand compensation of up to 600 euros ($663) for most substantial delays.

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