After a summer filled with stressful flight cancellations and delays, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has had enough. In a letter to airline CEOs, Buttigieg urges airlines to take better care of travelers experiencing flight delays and cancelations. 

The letter states that 3.2% of flights were canceled during the first half of this year. 24% of flights were delayed. 

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Details of the letter

“As we approach an increase in air travel for the Labor Day holiday, I want to reiterate what you have heard me say often: Americans expect when they purchase an airline ticket they will arrive at their destination safely, reliably, and affordably,” says Buttigieg in the letter. 

Protecting travelers

According to Buttigieg, the Department of Transportation will be launching an “interactive dashboard” so air passengers can have access to federal rules and each airline’s policies. 

Full body side portrait of young black man traveling with suitcase and cellphone at airport

The dashboard, which will help protect passengers, is scheduled to launch on September 2nd on the Transportation Department’s aviation consumer protection site. Travelers will be able to find links to all airlines on this site. 

Food and accommodations

At this time, there are no federal laws that require airlines to compensate passengers for food and hotel fees if they experience long delays. However, Buttigieg shares that the DOT wants to change that. 

“I urge you to take this opportunity to assess your Customer Service Plan to ensure that it guarantees adequate amenities and services to help passengers with expenses and inconveniences due to delays and cancellations,” says Buttigieg. 

He goes on to say, “The department asks that airlines, at a minimum, provide meal vouchers for delays of three hours or more and lodging accommodations for passengers who must wait overnight at an airport because of disruptions within the carrier’s control.”

Better customer service

Instead of waiting hours to get help after experiencing a flight delay or cancellation, Buttigieg wants better access to customer service for travelers.

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“Regardless of the cause of the delays or cancellations, the department expects airlines to provide timely and responsive customer service during and after periods of flight disruptions,” says Buttigieg in the letter. 

Airline’s responses to the letter

Airlines did not comment on the new rules. However, Airlines for America, the trade group for major airlines shared that its member carriers “comply with federal laws and regulations regarding cash refunds.”

Its spokeswoman Hannah Evans says they “strive to provide the highest level of customer service and look forward to working with the DOT to continue providing transparency for the traveling public.”

Related: Toronto’s Pearson Airport Ranks 2nd Worst In The World For Delays