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The U.S. has Announced New Rules for Airline Passengers When Flights are Delayed or Canceled

Apr 26, 2024 | News
A women looking at her phone at the airport.

On April 24, 2024, United States Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, made an announcement that may have a significant impact on U.S. airlines and passengers: The administration has updated new rules that will require airlines to automatically give cash refunds to compensate air travelers for canceled or significantly delayed flights.

These new rules state that passengers will be "entitled to a refund if their flight is canceled or significantly changed, and they do not accept alternative transportation or travel credits offered." The Department of Transportation (DOT) rule changes also include a cash refund for delayed bags and fees for services not provided, such as  WiFi or premium seat selection.

Prior to this new rule change, the U.S. only required ticket refunds for delayed or canceled flights, though most major airlines do provide compensation for meals, transportation, and complimentary hotel accommodations for passengers with extended disruptions. 

A similar regulation to protect consumers, EU 261, is already in place within the European Union. Through this regulation, passengers in the EU can qualify for compensation, refund, or rerouting by the airline when their flight is delayed or canceled.  

What this means for U.S. passengers

Under the new U.S. regulations, passengers would be compensated when they experience significant disruptions or cancellations which may include being delayed for more than a few hours or stranded overnight. The new rules “prioritize passenger experience and help passengers get a better deal when they travel,” President Biden has stated.

What this means for airlines

Under these new U.S. rules, airlines would be required to compensate air travelers if the flight is canceled or delayed for a reason under the airline’s control. These reasons may include mechanical issues, lack of a crew, or other scheduling challenges.

Airlines will need more ways to quickly give travelers compensation for delayed and canceled flights, including providing hotels, meals, transportation, or even rebooking with another airline. That means an airline’s team will need an automated system that scans and identifies passengers with disruptions, and puts compensation plans in place fast— all while continuing to manage their costs and support the safety and well-being of their crew teams and passengers. 

How TA Connections can help

Flight disruptions happen — how you respond to them is what sets you apart. TA Connections, the airline industry’s leading source for end-to-end operational management, offers digital solutions created to improve customer experience, reduce costs, and put you back in control. 

TA Disruption Hub is an automated, intelligent disruption management system that allows airlines to create a full resolution plan based on costs, federal regulations, and passenger criteria. 

TA Disruption Hub monitors your entire airline and predicts possible disruption events, from advance schedule changes months before travel, to real-time monitoring of all flights in your day-of operations window.

TA Disruption Hub automates the front-end customer recovery journey. Customer satisfaction, regulatory constraints, and resolution costs are all considered. Then a comprehensive disruption plan is communicated through a self-service portal that allows passengers to rebook flights, reserve hotels, process refunds, create vouchers or travel credits, and all from a single white-labeled self-service portal.

TA Disruption Hub automates the back-end too, automating processes with vendors, including booking, invoicing, and auditing. It integrates seamlessly with airlines’ existing systems to streamline any disruption event, including those that cause extended delays for passengers. 

Several European airline carriers have used the TA Disruption Hub to save millions under similar regulations in the EU. We’re uniquely positioned to help U.S. airline partners solve this new challenge.

Proactively manage disruptions with ease. Learn how TA Disruption Hub can automate passenger disruption plans and request a customized demo today.