U.S. Department Of Transportation Teams Up With 15 States to Support Passenger Rights

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Summary States team up with the federal government to enforce laws safeguarding airline passengers’ rights.
The Department of Transportation will train state officials and grant access to its complaint databases.
The partnership aims to hold airlines accountable for violations and protect passengers from problematic behavior.
Amid increasing concerns over consumer protection throughout the commercial aviation industry, the Biden administration today has enlisted the help of officials in 15 different states to help enforce key laws protecting the rights of airline passengers. Traditionally, this is a power that is strictly limited to the federal government, making today’s news far more noteworthy.
According to the Department of Transportation, which is headed by Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the states partnering with the federal government in this pursuit include major centers of air travel, including California, New York, and Illinois. With the current record boom in air travel, Buttigieg believes that the assistance of these state governments will be crucial to the continued enforcement of laws that protect consumers across the industry.
Photo: Philip Pilosian | Shutterstock
Specifically, the new agreement will allow state attorneys general to investigate, examine, and pursue repercussions for any complaints related to a passenger’s experience with an airline. In the event that investigators determine a specific law to be broken, these state governments would be able to receive support from the Department of Transportation to enforce any relevant statute.
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A mutually beneficial partnership
According to AP News, this partnership’s origins came from a new initiative by the Biden administration to ensure that all passengers’ rights are fully respected by airlines. To maintain surveillance on carriers, the Department of Transportation will give these state governments access to its extensive consumer-complaint database and aim to train state employees to recognize violations of passenger rights laws.
Photo: Karolis Kavolelis | Shutterstock
The DOT is undeniably excited about the new opportunities that this partnership will provide, especially for passengers who have encountered problematic behavior from an airline. In a statement, Buttigieg had the following words to share:
“This is a partnership that will greatly improve DOT’s capacity to hold airlines accountable and to protect passengers.”
Buttigieg mentioned a number of major concerns regarding travelers whose flights have been canceled that state authorities will now keep a very close eye on. Specifically, the secretary mentioned the common occurrence of passengers being forced to wait days for another flight or pay a premium for a sooner flight home, something he hopes this partnership will help bring an end to.
According to Buttigieg, this kind of occurrence represents an unacceptable violation of passenger rights and has become more and more common in recent years. Officially, the states that have signed the latest agreement with the department include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.
Political discord
While Buttigieg attempted to cast the agreement as bipartisan, there remains some political controversy surrounding the issue. Notably, only two of the many state officials that signed were Republican, demonstrating relatively weak support for the initiative from the party.
Photo: Andrew Mauro | Shutterstock
If consumer advocates are to achieve their ultimate goal of expanding full enforcement power to the states, they will need to gain the support of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Notably, congress chose to leave such provisions out of proposed legislation that could have granted states the authority to enforce laws protecting airline passengers’ rights.

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