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Biden Looks to Score Points With Consumers | National News

You’re sitting in the airport terminal for what feels like forever, checking the departures and arrivals screen in vain hopes that your flight will be leaving soon after hours or more of delays. And you’re thinking, someone should pay for this.

The Biden administration thinks so, and on Monday announced that it will be proposing rules that would require airlines to compensate passengers for flight delays or cancellations when the airline is at fault.

The “historic new rule,” President Joe Biden said at the White House on Monday, not providing a time frame for the process, will “make it mandatory for all U.S. airlines to compensate you with meals, hotels, taxis and rebooking fees and cash, miles and/or travel vouchers” in cases where the airlines are to blame for delays.

In the meantime, the administration is naming-and-shaming airlines, providing a detailed and easy-to-navigate website,, where consumers can compare which airlines offer such compensation as meals, taxi or rideshare costs, rebooking on another airline or hotels when there is a long delay or cancellation.

“This is just about being fair,” Biden said. “I know that these things may not matter to the very wealthy, but they matter most to middle-class families.”

The Department of Transportation has already proposed a rule saying airlines and travel-search websites would have to disclose up front – the first time an airfare is displayed – any fees charged to sit with your child, for changing or canceling your flight, and for checked or carry-on baggage.

Political Cartoons on Joe Biden

After that rule was proposed, several airlines voluntarily dropped the added fees to sit with your own children, Biden noted.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, in remarks before Biden spoke, said that increased enforcement and transparency by the agency has resulted in $1 billion in refunds to passengers.

Rule-making is one of the ways the executive branch can make policy changes without having to go through Congress. Building on existing statutes, such rules are the detailed execution of laws already in place.

With a GOP-run House reluctant at best to approve any Biden initiatives, the White House has turned to rule-making to achieve some lesser changes in areas where the president would prefer a wholesale reform.

For example, the Biden administration last month proposed a rule that expands privacy protections under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act aimed at keeping information about women’s abortions from “non-health care” entities. The rules change, which is set to take effect in June, is aimed at protecting women who travel to other states to get abortions because of bans or restrictions in their home states.

With Americans unhappy about high – if easing – inflation, the Biden administration has taken other action to empower consumers annoyed at unexpected fees or the high cost of products.

A new rule issued by the Food and Drug Administration last fall allows people with mild to moderate hearing loss to purchase hearing aids without an exam, a prescription or audiologist fitting. The FDA estimates that patients could save as much as $3,000 because of the rules change.

In February, the administration proposed a rule to limit credit card late fees to $8 – a dramatic cut from fees that are now as high as $41.

That rule is expected to go into effect in 2024, but Biden is pushing Congress to pass broader legislation to address so-called “junk fees,” such as hefty “resort fees” at hotels or so-called “service fees” for concert tickets.

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