the dominican Jonathan Aquino Solis denounced last July, through various means, that he remained 24 hours at New York JFK airport, along with hundreds of travelers to be able to fly to his native island, at the JetBlue company terminal. The journey of this traveler is not an isolated event. Particularly since this summer, it has been an expansive complaint that includes all airlines: canceled and rescheduled flights, delays of more than 24 hours, and the worst, lack of timely information to travelers.
A similar situation transpired at the same airport, last Wednesday, when a flight that was supposed to leave at one in the afternoon to Santo Domingoended up taking off the next day around six in the morning.
“People were already on the plane waiting, when the crew told them over the loudspeaker that they had to get off due to fuel problems. The flight ended up leaving the next day. And at the airline ticket office, no one reported anything. Every day I hear the same calamity”shared with The newspaper the islander Martin Rodriguez.
Jonatan and Martín’s complaints are multiplied by thousands in all the country’s airports, where some records agree that flight delays, specifically in the airports of Newark, LaGuardia and JFK they have tripled, and are at the top of the list of cancellations throughout the country, if contrasted with the months prior to the pandemic.
In the Big Apple, this telluric sequence of denunciations has been accompanied by protests organized in Upper Manhattan, led by mostly Dominican families, that have been affected by the lack of responses to compensation and reimbursement.
“The abuses are growing, not just the delays. We are also denouncing the high cost of tickets, surcharges for handbags that go up to $65. We even have evidence that nationals who dare to complain about bad service, they are taken off the planes, like a lump of avocado. We demand the action of the elected leaders,” he denounced. Louis Rodriguez, coordinator of the Alianza País organization in New York.
But this week, the growing expansion of complaints forced elected leaders and senior officials to look at an issue that as days go by “take a flight” more dramatic.
NY prosecutor calls on DOT to take action
Indeed, New York Attorney General Letitia James urged in a statement Wednesday the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to take action to address widespread airline cancellations and delays, which have interrupted the travel plans of millions of consumers across the country.
Statistics from the New York prosecutor’s office specify that during the first half of 2022, 2.8% of flights were canceled, an increase of 33% compared to the same period in 2019.
“Airports in the New York City area have had the highest summer cancellation rates in the country”James maintains.
In a letter to the US Secretary of Transportation, pete buttigiegthe Prosecutor requires the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to implement more stringent measures to remedy any harm to consumers.
“Travellers are being forced to miss important events, pay more or change their entire travel plan because airlines are failing. The very high number of cancellations at airports across the country is unacceptable. and the travelers They have endured too much confusion and frustration.”stated the official.
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has received complaints from New York consumers who suffered cancellations from multiple airlines, including passengers who were offered rescheduled trips until five days after the day of booked departure.
In many cases, as they have been emergency trips, some have denounced that they have gone to airports in neighboring states, in order to reach their destination, implying expenses of thousands of dollars to acquire new tickets.
“None of these people have been compensated,” he stressed in his OAG letter.
Prosecutor James explains that airlines have engaged in the practice of sell tickets knowing there is a “high risk” that they are not adequately staffed to provide all the flights they have advertised and booked.
“The airlines then keep the money paid by the passengers for the originally booked flights, as if they had provided the services they promised”, he asserted.
DOT Proposes New Rules
The Federal Transportation Agency this week unveiled a proposal that would strengthen protections for consumers in the event their flight is canceled or has a significant time change.
So far, this is just a proposal, as there will be a 90-day public comment period, before the changes take effect.
Specifically, stricter rules on how and when airlines they would have to compensate passengers for canceled or delayed flights.
Air travelers are currently entitled to a refund if their flights are canceled or “significantly” modified or delayed and they decide not to travel.
But what constitutes a significant change is not defined.
It is now proposed to define that as a departure or arrival time with a difference of at least three hours for domestic flightsor at least six hours for international flights.
Affected travelers would also be entitled to a refund if the route changes or a connection is added, as well as if a change in the plane causes a “significant downgrade” in the services.
The DOT also proposed requiring airlines to issue coupons “no expiration date” if passengers are unable to fly due to COVID-19, travel restrictions or personal health reasons.
“When Americans buy a plane ticket, they need to get to their destination safely. safe, reliable and economical”Buttigieg said in a press release.
In fact, the Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) appreciated that the DOT proposed new rules that would significantly strengthen protections for consumers seeking refunds for airline tickets.
“With these proposed rule changes, consumers can rest assured that they will now have the ability to receive refunds for cancellations that occur through no fault of their own. I commend this federal agency for putting people before airline profits,” the congressman said.
NY Airports with the Longest Delays
An analysis by FlightAware points out that New York area airports lead the nation in flight cancellations. almost the 8% of flights departing from Newark they have been canceled since May 28 and more than 7% of those leaving LaGuardia have also changed their schedules at the last minute “without notice”.
New York’s other major airport, JFK, ranks 9th for trips They were never performed, neither on the day nor at the time stated in the tickets. These data only cover the period of May 28 to July 13.
The Federal Aviation Administration blames airline staffing problems, as well as bad weather and heavy air traffic. In turn, understaffed airlines say the federal government is also has few staff on the premises of air traffic control.
In addition to consumer complaints, some airport worker unions have sounded the alarm that airlines are selling tickets for flights they know are “They will not be able to hire.”
In the long “track” of discomfort of airline customers, there is also the increase in ticket prices. Some considerations coincide in that the national routes saw a “flight” of their prices by 47%.
During the sources of complaints and protests that have spread in New York, the different airlines have notified their apologies and explained the reasons for the abnormality widespread of its services.
For example, the American airline JetBluewhich has been the main target of criticism and protests both in New York and its clients in the Dominican Republic, has apologized on multiple occasions and assures that it continues “taking action” to improve your operations.
“JetBlue was founded on the principle of being a customer-focused organization and that continues to be one of our core values”, they expressed.
For its part, the delta company highlights on its social networks “that more than at any other time in our history, the various factors that currently affect our operation – the weather and air traffic control, sales personnel, increase in the rates of COVID cases that have contributed to unforeseen absences higher than what is considered in some work groups – are resulting in an operation inconsistent with our standards.”
Inquiries open to passengers! Participate!:
- DOT encourages members of the public and interested parties to attend a virtual public meeting of the Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee focused on the proposed new regulations. The meeting is scheduled for August 22, 2022.
- Comments on this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NRPM) must be received within 90 days of the date the notice is published in the Federal Register.
- The NPRM can be found at https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/latest-news and at regulations.gov, docket number DOT-OST-2022-0089. Requests to participate in the meeting should be submitted to https://usdot.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_e_B-NtXfT8KlqgoNCH3f7w.
- Additional information about this public meeting (including how to make requests to comment during the meeting) is available at https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/latest-news.
- To get information on airline passenger rightsas well as DOT rules, guidance and orders, can be found on the Department’s aviation services consumer website at https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer.