Attorney General Bonta Urges Department of Transportation to Strengthen Regulation of Airline Industry

Tuesday, December 20, 2022
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Take action to increase transparency in airline ticket charges, accountability for flight cancellations and delays

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta joined a bipartisan coalition in urging the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to strengthen proposed regulations to increase transparency in airline ticket charges and accountability when airlines cancel or significantly delay flights. The pair of comment letters build on the attorneys general's ongoing efforts to ensure that airline customers are provided with robust consumer protections. In the letters, the attorneys general offer specific recommendations to address drip pricing and hidden fees, reduce the rate of airline cancellations, and provide meaningful relief to airline consumers whose flights have been canceled or significantly delayed.

“As millions of Californians prepare to travel over the holidays, many are bracing themselves for lost bags, canceled flights, and unexpected charges,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The sad reality is: Airlines have long lost the trust of the customers they are meant to serve. I fully support the Department of Transportation's effort to bring transparency and accountability to the airline industry, and urge the Department to join our offices in calling for Congressional legislation to allow state attorneys general to enforce state and federal consumer protection laws against the airline industry.”  

In response to USDOT's proposal on“Enhancing Transparency of Airline Ancillary Service Fees,” the attorneys general express their support for plans to require transparency around baggage, change, and cancellation fees, and recommend additional measures to enhance price transparency, such as the disclosure of seat-selection charges, booking fees, and ancillary fees charged by secondary airlines.  

In response to USDOT's proposal on “Airline Ticket Refunds and Consumer Protections,” the attorneys general urge USDOT to consider additional measures to reduce cancellations and improve consumer experience, including fining airlines that cancel flights due to inadequate staffing and other non-weather-related events and requiring partial refunds when passengers are forced to accept longer, later, or cheaper alternatives flights due to a flight cancellation. 

In both bipartisan letters, the attorneys general reiterate the need for legislation that would authorize state attorneys general to enforce consumer protection laws governing the airline industry and call on USDOT to partner with state attorney generals to address airline consumer protection issues.  

Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Washington, and Wisconsin in filing the letters. The attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, South Dakota, and Wyoming joined the letter on airline ticket refunds. 

A copy of the letters are available here and here.

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