- U.S. DOT’s Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR) for August 2023 is out.
- The report gives insights into on-time performance, baggage handling, and wheelchair/scooter mishandling.
- Flight cancellations for 2023 show improvement compared to previous years.
- DOT reinforces consumer protection with notable achievements and forthcoming rulemaking.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) introduced the ATCR to guide consumers about airlines’ service quality.
Through this initiative, DOT aims to safeguard that airline passengers are treated fairly and that flights adhere to schedules.
According to a U.S. Department of Transportation report, only 1.7% of flights were canceled in the first eight months of 2023, displaying progress compared to 3.0% and 2.3% during the same period in 2022 and pre-pandemic 2019, respectively.
DOT’s Active Consumer Protection
Using ATCR data and consumer complaints, DOT continuously refines its regulations and enforcement activities.
This year witnessed the highest fines imposed by DOT’s consumer protection office, mainly from consumer complaints. The report noted that since the pandemic’s onset, DOT facilitated over $2.5 billion in traveler refunds.
With a focus on enhancing the passenger experience, the ten major airlines now assure meals and complimentary rebooking on the same carrier, with nine offering hotel accommodations.
The DOT’s FlightRights.Gov dashboard, designed for consumer convenience, has also been expanded.
Plans to mandate passenger compensation and amenities for airline-induced delays or cancellations are in the pipeline.
Presidential Push for Fee-Free Family Seating
Following President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg’s intervention, four airlines offer fee-free family seating.
DOT is advancing a rulemaking to make this a universal requirement. A legislative proposal was also presented to Congress for the same.
In addition, the DOT launched a family seating dashboard in March 2023, simplifying the process for parents to determine airlines offering fee-free family seating.
Flight Operations: August 2023
The report noted that August 2023 observed a 5.45% year-over-year rise in flight operations with 630,761 flights, surpassing the 598,166 flights in August 2022.
This count also marked a 1.23% increase from 623,120 flights in July 2023.
What We Think
The DOT’s continual emphasis on consumer protection and transparency is commendable.
Improved airline performances, proactive rulemaking, and tools like the ATCR pave the way for a more consumer-centric air travel environment, leading to more informed and confident passengers.
Learn more in the entire U.S. Department of Transportation report.