A Senator Questions Airlines About Complaints, Fares And Considers New Legislation

Senator Dick Durbin, the second-highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, has requested that the CEOs of United Airlines and American Airlines address concerns regarding increasing passenger complaints and rising ticket prices and fees. Durbin is considering legislation proposed earlier this year that would mandate refunds for delayed flights, and transportation on competing airlines, and prohibit unnecessary airline fees as part of a comprehensive consumer protection plan.


As the head of the Judiciary Committee, Durbin questioned both airlines on how they are ensuring that their profits are not compromising a fair, affordable, and enjoyable travel experience for consumers. He also inquired about measures taken by airlines to prevent consumers from being burdened with excessive or unnecessary fees.

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Earlier this year, the Biden administration asked Congress to require airlines to compensate passengers in cash for delays exceeding three hours when the airlines are at fault. They also requested more transparency regarding fees such as baggage fees during ticket booking. However, these requests have largely been ignored by Congress. Durbin also sent a letter to Nick Calio, the leader of Airlines for America, an industry trade group. The group, along with United and American, did not comment.

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In recent months, major airlines have been lobbying Congress to reject a bill co-sponsored by Durbin. The airlines argue that the bill would jeopardize their ability to offer rewards credit cards that provide frequent flyer miles for transactions. Durbin argues that the bill would address exorbitant fees charged by Visa and Mastercard and promote competition by directing the Federal Reserve to ensure that large credit card-issuing banks offer a choice of at least two networks for processing electronic credit transactions. The bill would not apply to American Express. Delta Air, which has a frequent flyer credit card with American Express, did not receive a letter from Durbin. Airline unions are against the bill as they believe it would give Delta a significant competitive advantage.

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