DOT’s New Automatic Refund Rule is Another Big Swing Against Corporate Power in Flying

April 24, 2024 Press Release

Washington, D.C. — In response to news that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued a final rule requiring airlines to provide automatic and fast refunds to passengers in the event of a cancellation or delay, mishandled baggage, or junk fees for services not actually provided, the American Economic Liberties Project released the following statement.

“For years, domestic and foreign airlines both large and small have made it as hard as possible to give passengers well deserved refunds for disruptions they’ve caused or services they’ve failed to provide,” said William J. McGee, Senior Fellow for Aviation and Travel at the American Economic Liberties Project. “The DOT’s new rule is a watershed moment for passenger protection in the airline industry, making it easy and accessible for consumers to get relief when Too-Big-To-Care airlines run roughshod over them. This news follows a positive sea change in the DOT’s enforcement activity under the Biden administration, including supporting the DOJ’s successful JetBlue-Spirit merger challenge, a historic enforcement action against Southwest, and new efforts to empower state attorneys general to address consumer complaints. There’s more work to be done, but the DOT is showing that it’s getting serious about taking on corporate power across the airline industry—and we’re thrilled to see that.”

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The American Economic Liberties Project works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. Economic Liberties believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.