As passenger complaints against airlines rise by 300%, the US Department of Transportation said it has more staff processing complaints and that further action could come by the end of 2022.
Increasing air travel demand coupled with staff shortages are creating a rise in flight cancellations and delays in the United States. The country’s Department of Transportation says it has more staff handling consumer complaints and plans to take further action later in the year.
The DOT says consumer complaints against air carriers have risen over 300% compared to pre-pandemic levels, citing a report released in June 2022. The most prominent reasons for passenger complaints, like in the previous two years, remain refunds and flight problems.
To deal with the soaring number of complaints, the authority said it had increased its staff by 38%, according to a statement dated July 8, 2022. The authority is considering further action by the end of 2022. “USDOT also intends, later this year, to issue consumer protection rulemakings on airline ticket refunds and transparency of airline ancillary fees,” the authority said.
Meanwhile, DOT’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP) has initiated investigations against more than 20 airlines for failing to provide timely refunds according to the authority. “One of these investigations resulted in the highest penalty ever assessed against an airline,” DOT outlined in the statement, pointing to its $4.5 million Air Canada (ADH2) settlement reached in November 2021.
OACP filed the complaint against Air Canada (ADH2) in June 2021, claiming the airline had “extreme” delays in providing compensation for passengers whose flights to or from the United States had been cancelled or significantly changed.