The DOT rule requires airways to difficulty refunds for home flights delayed by 3 hours

Travelers may soon have more rights if their flight is canceled or delayed, as the Department for Transport aims to “strengthen” protections for consumers seeking refunds.

The agency proposed a rule on Wednesday that, if adopted, would for the first time define what constitutes a “significant” change and revocation.

Passengers are currently entitled to a refund if the airline “makes a significant reschedule and/or significant flight delay and the consumer chooses not to travel,” although the DOT has not yet defined what “significant” means.

Under the rule, the Department would provide for substantive changes to:

  • Changes affecting departure and/or arrival times of three hours or more for a domestic flight or six hours or more for an international flight
  • Changes to the airport of departure or arrival
  • Changes that increase the number of connections in a route; and
  • Changes to the type of aircraft flown if this significantly impairs the air travel experience or in-flight amenities.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks during a visit to a commercial driver’s license training program at Lehigh Carbon Community College in North Whitehall Township, Penn., in 2022. August 2

Matt Smith/Shutterstock.

The move comes amid a surge in complaints against airlines, most of which are related to refunds and flight services, according to the agency.

“I think the DOT has heard that passengers are fed up with airline gimmicks and some actions that are not consumer friendly,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group. interview with ABC News.

In addition, the rule would “codify the Department’s longstanding understanding that withholding refunds when a carrier cancels or significantly changes a flight to, from, or within the United States is an unfair practice,” the DOT said.

“I think the problem until now has been that you, as an individual traveler, don’t necessarily know what the big delay is on Delta versus American versus Southwest versus Spirit.” This can vary greatly from airline to airline. Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, told ABC News. “And those airlines aren’t even necessarily clear on what they consider a significant delay.”

According to Airlines for America (A4A), a group that acts on behalf of all major U.S. airlines, U.S. airlines have refunded $21 billion since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. USD cash. Cash accounted for 8% of passenger revenue in 2021. and 22.3% of passenger revenue in 2020, compared to 4.3% in 2019, A4A reported.

The public will have 90 days to comment on the proposed rule. After this period, DOT will review and analyze the comments and then decide whether to adopt the final rule as proposed or with modifications, submit a new or amended proposal, or withdraw the proposal entirely.

ABC News’ Sam Sweeney contributed to this report.

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