Air travel is a stressful experience even at the best of times.
Southwest Airlines, in particular, has gone through major struggles. It’s ended up having tons of tech problems on its flights and scheduling issues, canceling almost 17,000 flights during the holiday stretch in December of 2022.
Clearly, something has to change, but what’s the best way to make that happen? Now, Congress is getting involved to find out how new regulations and protections can improve travel and passenger rights when they fly.
Will this make things better or worse?
Americans Want Answers
Following the December flight cancellation disaster by Southwest, lawmakers and advocates have struggled to make new rules that bring more safety and consistency to passengers.
Last week, during a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Science, Commerce, and Transportation, the chairman of the advocacy group Flyers Rights, Paul Hudson, said there are extremely simple means that airlines can take to make things better.
One of the most effective measures, according to Hudson, is to provide support and compensation to passengers if there are more than three hours of flight delays.
Hudson insists that airlines have to invest money in assigning good service to their passengers, no matter what. This would motivate them to clean up their act and get organized or suffer a definite financial penalty.
'Let me be clear: We messed up' — Southwest Airlines officials were called before Congress to answer for the company’s mass flight cancellations pic.twitter.com/dNP0u7aa6K
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) February 11, 2023
More Ideas For Improving Air Travel
Another idea Hudson had is for those who suffer due to loss or excessive flight delay to participate in a program where they can obtain a totally free flight on any remaining airline that still has empty seats within a certain timeframe.
Hudson also proposed that the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 be active again. This law ensures any airline has limits in charging the amount it wants, as well as the routes it wants to fly.
The National Air and Space Museum argues the great competition of the airlines makes tickets more affordable to the general public.
Hudson says he’s more septic about it. He said it is imperative to reform the regulatory sector. For the Airlines for America advocacy group, the new regulations are unnecessary and they say it will just make things more expensive.
During a @commercedems hearing, I made it clear to Southwest representatives that the December cancellations were unacceptable & I relayed the stories I heard from Nevadans who had their holidays disrupted.
Proactive steps must be taken to ensure it doesn't happen again. pic.twitter.com/06t5UvD04n
— Senator Jacky Rosen (@SenJackyRosen) February 11, 2023
Cruz Has Questions
Senator Ted Cruz also asked questions about the pros and cons of the new air sector regulations. In response, economist Clifford Winston said every action generates a cost and this cost has to be passed on, including regulating air travel more.
The committee’s members questioned Southwest Airlines’ lack of preparedness and professionalism in front of its passengers. Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin asked Andrew Watterson, Southwest Airlines’ chief operating officer, to pay more attention to his customers.
Baldwin mentioned the case of one of the passengers who was wronged.
A young man who invested more than $700 in an airline ticket had his flight cancelled by the airline. He was forced to drive for more than 23 hours to arrive at his destination and honor his commitments where he was going to.
Clearly, a lot needs to change!This article appeared in FreshOffThePress and has been published here with permission.