Attorneys General Seek Additional Consumer Protection Authority From Congress To Address Concerns About The Airline Industry


 Jeffrey A. Greenbaum

Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz

The National Association of Attorneys General sent a  letter to Congressional leadership, asking Congress to pass legislation that would authorize state attorneys general to enforce state and federal consumer protection laws against the airline industry.  Under federal law, the U.S. Department of Transportation is primarily responsible for addressing consumer protection issues related to airlines and the states have little authority to act. 

In the letter, NAAG explained that, over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, AGs offices have received thousands of complaints from airline customers.  The AGs said that that airlines have “systematically failed to live up to their responsibilities to their customers and have caused significant frustrations and unnecessary challenges for these customers.” 

NAAG charged, however, that the DOT has failed to take appropriate action — through both Republican and Democratic administrations.  NAAG wrote, “Americans are justifiably frustrated that federal government agencies charged with overseeing airline consumer protection are unable or unwilling to hold the airline industry accountable and to swiftly investigate complaints submitted to the US DOT.”  

In addition to asking Congress to give them additional enforcement authority, the AGs also encouraged Congress to give the Federal Trade Commission jurisdiction to address airline-related consumer protection issues as well. 

While acknowledging that the DOT is considering certain  rulemakings to address certain consumer protection issues (which NAAG says it supports), NAAG said that, “we remain deeply concerned and frustrated that the agency is unable or unwilling to vindicate the rights of consumers and to hold airline companies accountable for irresponsible actions.  It is time to authorize state attorneys general, and perhaps a different federal agency, to enforce consumer protections for airline travelers.” 

The letter, from 38 attorneys general, was signed by the attorneys general from Arizona and Colorado, the states leading the effort, as well as the attorneys general from Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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Originally Published At The Mondaq Platform