‘Can’t treat kids like a piece of baggage,’ US President Biden warns airlines, hints at new laws
Several airlines in the United States recently faced growing calls in Congress to boost consumer protection norms after a series of disruptions including a holiday meltdown at Southwest that led to the cancellation of more than 16,000 flights
Washington: US President Joe Biden has harshly criticized US airlines for charging unfair fees from families with children and has vowed to implement new consumer protection laws to protect the interest of fliers.
“Baggage fees are bad enough– airlines can’t treat your child like a piece of baggage,” the US President said at his State of the Union address. “We’ll prohibit airlines from charging $50 round trip for families just to be able sit together,” he said.
Representatives from several US carriers like Airlines for America (A4A), a group representing Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), United Airlines (UAL.O), American Airlines (AAL.O), Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) among others said that they did not charge any extra fee for families to sit together with children. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for one of the airlines said that the carriers “make every effort to accommodate passengers travelling together — especially those travelling with kids.”
Biden cited new rules that the Transportation Department is drafting to make “airlines show passengers the full ticket price upfront and refund their money if the flight is cancelled or delayed.” Refunds would only apply if passengers opted not to take other flights.
Several airlines in the United States recently faced growing calls in Congress to boost consumer protection norms after a series of disruptions including a holiday meltdown at Southwest that led to the cancellation of more than 16,000 flights.
Last week, the airlines shot back at the White House and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg claiming that administration proposals on aviation competition were “short-sighted” and will “drive-up costs and reduce choices” for consumers.
The US President in September touted his administration’s “crackdown” on domestic US airlines to improve the treatment of passengers after they updated customer service plans. “Secretary Buttigieg, at my request, called them out,” Biden had then said.
Lawmakers in the United States have proposed sweeping legislation which would ensure airline passengers get refunds for delayed flights, prohibit further shrinking plane seat sizes and give consumers new legal rights to sue airlines for unfair trade practices.
In a separate instance, the US Justice Department has also sued to unwind American Airlines Northeast Alliance with JetBlue Airways (JBLU.O) and USDOT reassigned 16 peak-hour flights at congested Newark Airport to Spirit Airlines (SAVE.N). The Justice Department is expected to soon decide whether to sue to block a merger between JetBlue and Spirit Airlines.
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