United States – On Tuesday night, the US House and Senate confirmed their agreement on revising the wording in the aviation reform bill to compensate those who did not seek alternative flights when their flights were canceled and were not given refunds.

New Refund Rules

On April 24, The US Transportation Department published new rules that will apply later this year to automatically issue free cash refunds to passengers who do not accept a change of flight in the event of a canceled flight, as reported by Reuters.

Bipartisan Proposal

The bipartisan proposal in Congress unveiled last week to allow passengers to request refunds raised fears that it could undermine a rule that compensates people who bought non-refundable tickets for canceled flights.

However, under the revised words, first reported by Reuters on Tuesday and which have been made public today, refunds would be automatic in most cases. Automatic refunds will be nurtured only if the passengers switch the booked flight to the new flight.

Senators are optimistic that the amended vote will pass the Senate on time for a Thursday deadline for a five-year Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization.

Legislative Optimism

Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat and the chairwoman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said, “Statutory rights to refunds are a big win for consumers in this bill. Passengers can reject vouchers or alternative flights and, without hassle, get a refund.”

Democratic Senator Ed Markey said that the refund bill was “a victory for airline customers on a world scale.

A representative for Senator Ted Cruz, the panel’s highest-ranking Republican, stated that he and Cantwell had agreed to redraft the amendment to reiterate the right of consumers to pursue a refund if they so choose.

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Josh Hawley, who had presented an amendment for automatic refunds and “enforcement on the challenging props developed by airlines to maximize their profits,” have found a similar provision.

There is no compensation for the delay in the rules and acts of our authorities, which is legally satisfied in case of long waiting in the EU. President Joe Biden asserted last summer that DOT would be revising its rules to pay passengers with cash the amount equivalent to the significant flight delays or cancellations encountered due to the airline’s negligence.

Key Provisions

The aviation bill is a 1,100-page, USD 105 billion package intended to boost air traffic controller staffing and raise funding to prevent near-miss runway incidents. Yet, the bill did not contain a provision (adopted by the House) establishing the pilot retirement age at 67 rather than 65.

The bill surrounds airlines by forbidding them to charge families for sitting together, adding five daily roundtrip flights at a very busy airplane named ‘Washington National Airport,’ and also demanding airlines accept vouchers and credits for at least five years, as reported by Reuters.

The law also installed black box recorders in planes that must record the previous 25 hours and directed the FAA to deploy advanced airport surface technology to avoid collisions on the airport surface.