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United States: Biden pushes change for airlines

“I know how frustrated many of you are with the service you receive from American airlines, especially after you, the American taxpayer, stepped up in 2020, in the last administration, in the early days of the pandemic, to provide nearly $50 billion in assistance to keep the airline industry and its employees afloat,” Biden recalled.

American airlines get a better deal (…) Historically, when delays and cancellations are the fault of the airline, the law only requires airlines to reimburse customers for the price of their plane ticket, but not the cost of meals, hotels or transportation when you stay in limbo. In fact, a year ago, almost no major airline guaranteed compensation beyond the price of the ticket if they caused a delay.”

He added: “But then we challenged them to do better. And indeed, they did: airlines began changing their policies when they are at fault for canceling or delaying a flight. Now, 9 of the main airlines cover hotels, 10 cover meals, 10 rebook for free”.

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“The Department of Transportation proposed a rule that will be approved this year. If approved as proposed, it would require airlines to show the full price of the ticket up front before the passenger completes the purchase, including baggage, internet and seat change fees. That way, they can get a more complete and accurate price before they buy their ticket, and they can compare prices and choose the best deal,” Biden anticipated.

“Last holiday season, travelers were stranded for days and they had to fight to find other ways to get to their destinations (…) American air travelers deserve better, and that’s what we’re going to do, that’s what we’re doing here today.

Y I am proud to announce two critical steps my administration is taking to protect America’s air passengers. First, we just launched a new website: FlightRights.gov (Flight Rights)”, said the first president.

“And the second step is that if your flight was very delayed or canceled and the airline could have prevented it, you deserve more than just receiving your ticket price. You deserve to be fully compensated. Your time is worth, and the impact on your life matters. That’s why today I’m announcing a critical second step to protect American consumers. My administration will propose a new landmark rule that will make it mandatory, not voluntary, but mandatory for all airlines in the United States to compensate with meals, hotels, taxis, rideshares or rebooking, and cash, miles, and/or travel vouchers when they are to blame for the cancellation or delay. And that’s all besides refunding the cost of your ticket,” Biden said.

Finally, the US president concluded: “Airline passengers in Canada, for example, and the European Union and other places they already receive these compensations. And guess what? It works”.

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