Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal calls for airline passenger bill of rights after recent travel meltdown

STAMFORD, Conn. — After weeks of travel headaches, some lawmakers want to give travelers a bill of rights if they fly.

Thousands of canceled flights left many people stranded, particularly Southwest customers.

Darrell Mangran was scheduled to be on a flight home from LaGuardia Airport by 5 p.m. Monday.

“It got delayed and then they canceled it. And now she’s telling me we won’t be home until 11 tomorrow, so I said, ‘I’m from Georgia, where should I stay?'” he said.

He says after asking the airline’s customer service representative for help, he’ll likely be sleeping on the terminal floor.

“So I say, ma’am, well, will you compensate us? Do you have anything, hotel or vouchers, meal vouchers? And it’s like, ‘Oh no, we don’t have that,'” Mangran said.

Stories like his have been all too common in recent weeks as thousands of flights a day have been canceled over the holidays, with Southwest Airlines being the biggest culprit.

CONTINUE READING: Southwest Airlines is under scrutiny after a staggering number of passengers are stranded

“The kind of disaster we saw at Southwest simply dramatizes a continued failure by airlines to respect basic passenger rights,” said Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Blumenthal introduces legislation to create a bill of rights for air passengers.

The law, if passed, would essentially ensure airlines provide refunds and compensation for additional costs caused by delayed or canceled flights and lost luggage.

“Rental car, hotel, meals, no questions asked, money back,” Blumenthal said.

Bill McGee is Senior Fellow in Aviation at the American Economic Liberties Project. He says Americans have fewer rights when dealing with an airline than with virtually any other company.

“They have their own internal algorithms based on how much you paid for the ticket, where you bought the ticket, when you bought the ticket, how you bought it and because of that these contracts are vague, they’ That’s unfair, they’re one-sided,” he said.

McGee says the four largest airlines currently control 84% of the market, an unprecedented level of consolidation for the industry.

“Not only does it mean fewer flights, fewer non-stop flights, less service, it also means…much higher fares,” McGee said.

Blumenthal plans to introduce the bill on Tuesday.

In a statement Monday night, Southwest said it had several high-priority efforts underway to do the right thing by its customers, including processing refunds and reimbursing travelers for their expenses.

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