Consumer Complaints

Congressional Action Needed to Strengthen Airline Consumer Protection Regulations

Advocates Urge Congress to Expand DOT’s Authority, Disincentivize Unfair and Deceptive Conduct, and Hold Airlines Accountable

Washington, D.C. – CFA joined a coalition of consumer and passengers’ rights groups calling on Congress to expand and strengthen consumer protection regulations in the upcoming 2023 Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization process. Despite receiving over $50 billion of relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines have had record delays, cancellations, and poor customer service, all while fare prices continue to increase. The sole regulator of airlines, the Department of Transportation (DOT), has initiated only a single enforcement action since the pandemic began.

Consumer advocates have created a list of urgently needed reforms that Congress can undertake to expand DOT’s authority, disincentivize unfair and deceptive conduct, and hold airlines accountable, including:

  • Minimizing flights cancellations and delays by requiring industry-wide reciprocity for passengers, requiring carriers to maintain a percentage of on-time flights per month, and requiring public airports to post notices about compensation rights.
  • Reforming airline fees, seating and rewards by prohibiting unreasonable and disproportionate fees, prioritizing family seating requirements, establishing basic standards for air travel (including maintaining a customer service phone number with minimal wait time), requiring up front and transparent fare pricing, ending the excise tax exemption for ancillary service fees, establishing a minimum passenger seat size, and requiring reasonable notice before devaluing frequent flyer miles.
  • Enabling stronger enforcement of passenger protections by permitting state attorneys general to enforce DOT consumer protection laws, establishing a private right of action for passengers, and directing the Government Accountability Office to examine the DOT’s failure to complete prior mandates from Congress in past FAA reauthorization bills.
  • Prioritizing consumer voices by renewing the charter for the Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee, requiring airport authority government boards to have at least two consumer representatives, and establishing the creation of new airports.

“Congress has an opportunity and an obligation to respond to the air travel crisis by enacting meaningful reforms to strengthen consumer protections,” said Erin Witte, CFA’s Director of Consumer Protection. “CFA is committed to ensuring that urgently needed reforms are included and that consumer voices are prioritized throughout the FAA reauthorization process.”

Contact: Erin Witte, 202-569-9807