WASHINGTON — Change is needed to avoid another airline meltdown that impacted millions of people over Christmas weekend, according to one group of lawmakers.
Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids and other members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee sent a letter asking the Department of Transportation to make sure Southwest Airlines is held accountable for the issues it caused.
“We urge you to use the full weight of your agency to hold Southwest Airlines accountable, provide stronger consumer protections for passengers and help prevent these types of mass cancellations from occurring in the future,” Davids and her colleagues wrote in the letter. “Unless immediate action is taken, the rising threat of mass flight cancellations risks jeopardizing Americans’ confidence in the reliability of our nation’s air transportation network.”
The lawmakers proposed changes to protect consumers in the future, including:
- Making reimbursements mandatory instead of leaving it up to airlines to decide.
- Ensuring passengers and airlines can effectively communicate with each other.
- Making sure that airlines are able to maintain a reasonable level of operational capabilities in the event of extreme weather and other disruptions.
House lawmakers say they plan to consider major aviation legislation this session through the 2023 FAA reauthorization, and the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee will play a major role in any policy changes.
In all, Southwest canceled 16,000 flights, leaving travelers stranded at KCI International Airport and other airports across the country last month.