On Friday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called on airlines to help travelers, or else his department would draft new rules around passenger rights if the carriers don’t give more help to travelers trapped by flight cancellations and delays.
Buttigieg said airline CEOs should, at a minimum, provide lodging for passengers stranded overnight at an airport and give out meal vouchers for delays of three hours or longer when the disruption is caused by something in the airline’s control.
According to reports, Buttigieg has been fighting with the airlines since late spring over high numbers of canceled and delayed flights.
“Still, the level of disruption Americans have experienced this summer is unacceptable,” Buttigieg said.
Based on the latest data, in 2022, airlines have canceled about 146,000 flights, or 2.6%, and nearly 1.3 million flights have been delayed.
The rate of cancellations is up about one-third from the same period in 2019, before the pandemic, and the rate of delays is nearly one-fourth.
The cancellations are blamed chiefly on understaffing at airlines, which encouraged employees to quit after the pandemic.