The US Government urges airline

US Urges Airlines To Boost Travel Benefits For Military Personnel

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Thursday called upon the nation’s major passenger airlines to boost travel benefits for active-duty military personnel and their families.

In May, the department plans to initiate the publication of comparative information on travel benefits that airlines offer for service members and their families on a dedicated customer service dashboard.

USDOT intends to specify airlines that will pledge to provide full refunds to service members and their families in cases of canceled travel plans due to military directives, along with allowances for complimentary baggage.

The majority of carriers provide military personnel with additional free baggage allowances and other benefits such as priority boarding or discounted fares. Currently, there are approximately 1.3 million active-duty U.S. military personnel and around 800,000 reservists.

Buttigieg said “benefits are not consistently detailed in carriers’ public-facing Customer Service Plans, resulting in many service members being unaware of them” and added that “airlines’ travel benefits often do not fully address the needs of service members who may need to cancel or change personal travel plans due to military directives.”

Major carriers, including American Airlines (AAL.O), Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), and United Airlines (UAL.O), have directed inquiries to the trade group Airlines for America. The group commended military members and stated that “carriers are proud to offer a variety of travel benefits and are transparent about these benefits on their websites.”

The Transportation Department had previously established a government dashboard that highlighted airline commitments to ensure families could sit together without additional charges. By September 2022, nearly all major airlines had agreed to guarantee passengers meals and overnight stays for lengthy delays within their control after USDOT initially announced a dashboard comparing customer protections.

In May 2023, President Joe Biden announced that USDOT was drafting new rules aimed at requiring airlines to provide cash compensation to passengers for significant flight delays or cancellations when the carriers are at fault.

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