DENVER (KDVR) — Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg put out a warning to airlines on Friday saying more regulations could be coming if air travelers aren’t given better services.
Buttigieg said a new draft ruling on passenger rights could be coming if carriers don’t deal with the high volume of delays and cancellations. Those potential regulations, at minimum, would be food vouchers for delays of three or more hours and hotel stays for those stranded overnight.
After the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, packed airports are a common sight again, but not without issues that leave passengers like Janet Jones frustrated.
“I think that’s kind, but they need another flight, otherwise they are delayed a whole day and then you have a layover and you need to get on another flight, then you’re basically stranded,” Jones said.
These hotel and food vouchers are aimed at easing frustrations for trapped travelers.
Fixing air travel may take time
Jeffery Price, a professor of aviation at Metropolitan State University Denver, said it’s a larger issue to fix.
“There is a lack of pilots due to legislation years ago that raised pilot requirements. A lot of them left during COVID-19 and went to the charger industry,” Price said. “We see a lot of pilots being rehired, retrained, along with support personnel. There are a lot of issues here that I don’t think threatening some regulations is going to automatically fix.”
So far this year about 146,000 flights have been delayed, according to FlightAware. That’s up one-third from the same period in 2019.
Even with the potential new rulings, normalcy at the airport could be in the distant future.
“I think it’s an issue that we’re going to have for a while and will carry into other administrations, if it’s not fixed sooner rather than later,” Price said. He believes the U.S. is three years out from things getting back to pre-pandemic norms.