Local passengers react to proposed new rules for airline cancellations, delays

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. With summer travel season coming up and following a rash of flight cancellations and delays over the holidays, on Monday the Biden administration announced a new plan to hold airlines accountable.

President Joe Biden says his administration will make it mandatory for airlines to compensate passengers. Some passengers who spoke with News10NBC at the Greater Rochester International Airport say this is good news. Others are worried passengers may pay more in the long run.

“I’m glad that President Biden is stepping up and looking out,” Terry Waddell Monter said. “We deserve it. They charge exuberant amounts in airline tickets.”

Waddell Monter experienced the mayhem last year when her flight from Chicago to New Jersey was canceled. The only option was for her and her husband to drive 12 hours and they were not compensated for that. Under the new proposal airlines would be required to pay up and compensate passengers for major delays and cancellations that are due to issues in their control, like staffing or mechanical problems.

“If it’s the airline’s fault and your flight was canceled or delayed you can check the dashboard to check how the airline should be compensating you,” Biden said.

That means compensating you with rebooking your flight, covering your hotel room, meals and more.

“Taxis, ride shares, rebooking fees and cash miles and or travel vouchers,” Biden said.

Another passenger who traveled from Chicago to Rochester Monday evening believes these are all appropriate actions.

“Any other business would be held responsible for goods not delivered,” Wendy Smith-Fitzgerald said. “So I don’t know why the airlines would also not be held accountable for delays. The consumer is making an investment in travel, so they are not expecting the extra expense.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg explains that billions in passenger airfare expenses have already been recovered in the past year.

“We’ve empowered passengers with better information,” Buttigieg said. “We’ve helped get a billion dollars back in refunds and counting back to passengers.”

But some passengers like Drew Richard, whose flight was delayed four times causing him to arrive several hours late, says he’s not convinced this will really help passengers or protect airline employees.

“I’m not sure the same managers who created these situations won’t be persuaded not to make them worse by being fined,” Richard said. “I think they will find other ways to hide the buck.”

Airlines for America, which represents the biggest carriers, said in a statement that airlines have no incentive to delay or cancel flights. The trade group said more than half of cancellations in 2022 and 2023 have been caused by “extreme weather” or air traffic control outages. You can find more information here.