Attorneys General Seek Changes to Protect Airline Passengers

jetblueImage by Nel Botha

HARRISBURG, PA — Attorney General Josh Shapiro, along with a multistate coalition of attorneys general, called on Congress this week to allow state attorneys general to enforce state and federal consumer protections for airline travelers. The request comes after attorneys general received thousands of complaints from outraged passengers frustrated by problems they’ve had with air travel and what they view as airlines failing in their responsibilities to consumers. The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General has received 408 complaints from frustrated fliers in the Commonwealth.

“There have been over a thousand canceled flight departures in Pennsylvania this year, leaving travelers stranded,” said AG Shapiro. “Travel always comes with a few bumps in the road, but my office has heard from hundreds of Pennsylvanians over the past few months who have encountered unnecessary challenges to their airline travel. As Attorney General, my office is the top consumer watchdog in Pennsylvania and we should have the ability to protect flyers if laws are being violated. Let us do our jobs for the public and hold companies who break consumer protection laws accountable.”

According to statistics from the US Department of Transportation, 2,581 departure flights in Pennsylvania have been canceled so far in 2022. Federal law currently places central responsibility for addressing violations of airline consumer protection laws with the Department of Transportation, but the agency hasn’t kept up with the escalating issues. State attorneys general have limited authority in holding airline companies accountable for unacceptable behavior towards consumers.

The letter urges Congress to pass legislation that would authorize state attorneys general to enforce both state and federal consumer protection laws governing the airline industry. It also encourages Congress to consider shifting the authority for federal investigations of airline customer complaints from the US Department of Transportation to an agency more focused on consumer protection.

Attorney General Shapiro is joined in this letter by the attorneys general of Arizona, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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