The federal Department of Transportation (DOT) launched an online dashboard ahead of Labor Day weekend to help air travelers affected by flight disruptions.
The airline customer service dashboard provides information about what services ten major U.S. airlines have committed to providing in case of cancellations or delays within the airlines' control. It went live Thursday and can be found on the DOT's website.
"Passengers deserve transparency and clarity on what to expect from an airline when there is a cancellation or disruption," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in the press release announcing the launch. "This dashboard collects that information in one place so travelers can easily understand their rights, compare airline practices and make informed decisions."
"Carriers welcome opportunities to simplify travel policies, clarify existing practices and increase transparency for travelers," a spokesperson for Airlines for America, a trade organization representing airlines including American, United and JetBlue, told FOX Business. "U.S. airlines publicize their customer service plans on their individual websites, and the newly launched airline industry dashboard gives travelers another platform to access that information."
The dashboard lists the various services air travelers may be able to receive from the airlines in the event of a cancellation or delay caused by something within the carrier's control, including rebooking the affected passenger on the same airline at no added cost, providing a meal or meal voucher when there's a three-hour wait and complimentary hotel accommodations for passengers with overnight disruptions.
A green check mark on the dashboard indicates the airline has committed to providing a service, while a red "x" means it has not. DOT noted on the dashboard that airlines with a red "x" may "provide these services and amenities in some instances in their discretion."
Southwest Airlines' customer service plan, for example, provides "hotel, transportation and meal vouchers for customers whose travel is delayed by circumstances within our control by more than the three-hour threshold defined by the DOT," according to a statement from the airline to FOX Business. The carrier encourages its employees to take care of customers "guided by the simple philosophy of doing the right thing" and does not "utilize a one-size-fits-all approach," the statement said.
"Second only to safety, Delta’s priority is to do right by our customers when delays or cancellations happen, regardless of the cause," a Delta Air Lines spokesperson told FOX Business. "The categories DOT’s dashboard lays out are aligned with our existing customer commitment, and we’ve updated some of our language to be explicitly clear about the services and amenities we provide customers when they are inconvenienced. "
Buttigieg announced the dashboard in an Aug. 18 letter to airline CEOs in which he called the increase in flight cancellations and delays across the country "unacceptable."
The DOT's recently released air travel consumer report found air travel service complaints have jumped nearly 270% from pre-pandemic levels in June 2019. According to the agency, almost 29% of the complaints received in June were related to flight cancellations, delays or other deviations from the carriers' schedules.
Travelers and airlines have been plagued with flight disruptions caused by staffing shortages, bad weather and air traffic control issues for months. To combat the disruptions, carriers have taken steps like boosting hiring and training and adjusting flight and crew schedules.
An estimated 12.6 million Americans are planning to fly Labor Day weekend, according to a Labor Day travel guide by the travel website Hopper.