Senator Gillibrand Calls for Investigation into Potential Unfair Airline Business Practices
In the midst of record-breaking flight cancellations and chaos at airports, Senator Gillibrand held a press conference in July to highlight a letter she is leading with Senators Blumenthal (D-CT) and Padilla (D-CA) to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging the agencies to investigate whether airlines are engaging in unfair or deceptive business practices. During the pandemic, Congress authorized $54 billion in taxpayer-funded relief to help retain pilots and critical staff to keep airlines afloat and ready for the return to travel. Now, they are failing to fulfill flights promised to customers, and in some cases, allegedly scheduling flights that they know cannot be staffed.
“Across the country, Americans are feeling the impact of severe airline delays, canceled flights, and lost luggage. As travel has ramped up during the summer months, our airports have become especially chaotic and ineffective, and yet, airlines are still reporting massive revenues,” said Senator Gillibrand. “In other words, Americans are suffering the consequences and paying more out of pocket for inferior service. It is evident that airlines have prioritized higher profit margins over quality customer service, which is why I’m calling on the Department of Transportation and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate major airlines that may be engaging in unfair and deceptive business practices.”
“Americans are facing the frustrations of extreme airline delays, flight cancellations, and lost luggage, but airlines are still reporting record profits despite substandard service and a strained workforce,” said Senator Padilla. “For the price Americans are paying for air travel and the amount of taxpayer funding that has helped keep the industry afloat, the quality of service is dismal. The Department of Transportation and the Federal Trade Commission should look into major airlines and ensure they’re not engaging in unfair business practices.”
“As airline travel chaos continues, federal agencies must investigate airline industry practices and protect consumers,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Travelers face frustrating flight delays, last minute cancellations, and lost luggage, while airlines deflect blame. This federal scrutiny is critical to help restore order to the skies.”
As part of the investigation, the lawmakers are asking the DOT and FTC to focus on three areas: Whether airlines are knowingly engaging in unfair or deceptive business practices by offering flights that they know are logistically impossible to execute; Whether airlines are properly informing consumers of the ability to be compensated for significantly delayed or canceled flights; Whether airlines are properly compensating consumers for significantly delayed or canceled flights.
More flights were canceled in June 2022 than any other previous June in the United States.