You Could Soon Be Compensated for Flight Delays, Biden Says

In a new proposed regulation, airlines would be required to issue cash payments instead of refunds.

IronHeart/Moment/Getty Images
IronHeart/Moment/Getty Images
IronHeart/Moment/Getty Images

The choice of the term “compensated” rather than “refunded” is definitely not casual, and it is in your best traveler’s interest to focus on that part. The Biden administration today announced that it is proposing a new regulation that would require airlines to pay passengers if their flights get extensively delayed or canceled.

That’s right. If the new rule is put into effect, stranded travelers would get actual cash payments rather than plain ole refunds to patch up the damage caused by flight disruptions under the carrier’s control.

This would be a major improvement in the US aviation system, where no airline currently offers this kind of service, according to the Department of Transportation. For now, airlines limit themselves to offering amenities or refunds when flights get canceled or delayed, including (but not limited to) free rebooking on the same airline, meals, and hotel accommodations. You can check what you’re currently entitled to based on the airline you’re using on this government site, the creation of which is part of the administration’s broader effort to improve the experience of air travel in the US.

The new rule would put the US right next to Europe and Canada when comparing flight disruption pay-outs. According to a White House official, both the European Union and Canada already flaunt policies expecting airlines to offer additional compensations if the flight is much delayed or canceled, USA Today reports.

The aviation rules the US currently has in place to remedy flight delays and cancellations are simply not enough according to the Biden administration, which is looking to establish this new rule to further shield travelers and their wallets from inconveniences that are out of their control.

“When an airline causes a flight cancellation or delay, passengers should not foot the bill,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “This rule would, for the first time in US history, propose to require airlines to compensate passengers and cover expenses such as meals, hotels and rebooking in cases where the airline has caused a cancellation or significant delay.”

However, it is still unclear the extent to which the airlines would be supposed to compensate unlucky passengers. As of today, the Biden administration has yet to communicate specifics about the proposal and as the Washington Post points out, even if the proposed regulation is approved, it would take months and possibly even years before it went into effect.

Airlines are also likely to strongly push back on the proposal and, to some extent, they have already started their counterattack. As Airlines for America, the trade group for the main US airlines, said, airlines aren’t looking to delay or cancel flights, and there is no real incentive for them to do so.

According to the group, most cancellations this year were caused by factors outside of the airlines’ control, including air traffic control outages and severe weather conditions. However, according to a study conducted this year by Family Destinations Guide, that might not be entirely true.

The study considered flight delays between January and November 2022 by looking at data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and found that airlines are oftentimes to blame for delay disruptions. As Thrillist previously reported, air carrier delays-which have to do with issues such as aircraft cleaning, damage to the aircraft, and baggage delays-are the leading cause of delayed flights in the US, with a total of 465,759 disrupted flights in 2022. According to the same study, weather delays, diversions, and security delays were less common causes. Additional research released last week by the Government Accountability Office came to a similar conclusion.

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


Mad Mex’s New Menu Item Is Inspired by a Popular Mexican Street Food

mad mex chicken al pastor

Mexican restaurant chain Mad Mex has dropped a new protein, and it’s one of the most popular street foods in Mexico.

Enter, Chicken Al Pastor. It’s traditionally made with pork and grilled on a spinning rotisserie with a pineapple sitting a top, but Mad Mex has put its own spin on it, serving chicken bathed in an Al Pastor marinade with a touch of juicy pineapple.

You can order the protein-packed filling in your favourite burrito, bowl, quesadilla, nachos, or in a taco.

As always, these things are here for a good time, not a long time. Pop into your local Mad Mex restaurant, order delivery or through the Mad Mex app today.

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