Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has announced plans to reintroduce laws that create a strict “bill of rights” for all airline passengers in the wake of the recent weather-induced disaster that took place at Southwest Airlines which resulted in multiple thousands of passengers being stranded all over the country.
The company was forced to cancel just over two-thirds of its scheduled flights throughout the busy Christmas travel season, even once the extreme winter weather conditions had fallen away and the rest of the airlines had returned to business as usual instead of canceling an elevated number of flights. Southwest elected to announce a return to normal operations as of the 30th of December, but the data regarding cancelation made public by FlightAware showed that the company had finally reached parity with the other major airlines.
Blumenthal has chosen to submit this new legislation to the recently instated Congress that would provide quite a few reimbursement guarantees to passengers afflicted by future flight cancelations. “The kind of disaster that we saw with Southwest simply dramatizes an ongoing failure by the airlines to respect basic passenger rights,” the legislator stated in an interview held with CBS. “Rental cars, hotel, meals, no questions asked, money back.”
Legislation in the same vein which was also filed by Blumenthal within the previous Congress would have issued “protections for airline passengers from being required to involuntarily relinquish their seats,” officially mandates “training on the rights of passengers” for airline staff, blocked “unreasonable air carrier fees,” and issued “compensation to passengers” for flights that had been pushed back or canceled outright.
Other legislators have likewise sounded the horn for additional regulations to be placed on the airline industry as a whole in the wake of the disaster experienced this past Christmas season. Both Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) elected to cite an earlier admonition throw to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg where they called for the official to establish additional rules guaranteeing refunds for all passengers impacted by delayed and canceled flights.
“Taxpayers bailed out the airline industry during their time of need,” stated Sanders. “It is the responsibility of the airline industry and the Department of Transportation to ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that the flying public and crew members are able to get to their destinations on time and without delay.”
The market share prices for Southwest ended up dropping by well over 15% this past month as a number of executives attempted to try and piece back together the trust of the disenfranchised customers. The leadership of the pilots union for the company has made the claim that the spike in cancelations was tethered to “a combination of processes, outdated technology, and infrastructure.” The airline is currently the only one across the major carriers that organizes its flights utilizing a point-to-point system rather than a hub model.
Bob Jordan, the current CEO of Southwest, stated in a recent release that the firm is performing a “thorough review” of the issues that took place. “We’ve already taken immediate actions to mitigate the risk of this ever happening again, and the review work will inform additional actions and investment as well,” he stated. “We’ve asked our unions to participate in this review effort as well, and likewise we are in regular communication with our Board of Directors.”