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Attorney General Josh Stein Pushes for Stronger State Authority to Protect Air Travelers

For Immediate Release:
Monday, July 10, 2023

Contact: Nazneen Ahmed
919-716-0060

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today asked Sen. Ted Budd to support stronger protections for airline customers in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2023. In a letter to Sen. Budd, Attorney General Stein encouraged Sen. Budd to support an amendment from Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.) that would give state attorneys general the power to enforce federal law when the airline industry uses unfair and deceptive practices or unfair methods of competition.

“People in North Carolina, like other Americans, are fed up with the state of air travel,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “If my office had the authority to take action to protect airline customers, we could do more to get people recourse and to prevent future headaches for North Carolina travelers.”

Air travel has jumped in the past year, and complaints about airlines have increased as well. In January 2023, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) received 10,822 complaints about air travel – a 728 percent increase from the complaints received in January 2020. Travelers have filed complaints about mishandled baggage, flight delays and cancellations, and refunds, among other issues.

Unlike the USDOT, state attorneys general don’t have the authority to hold airline carriers accountable and enforce the law when they fail their customers. Adding this amendment to the FAA Reauthorization Act would allow attorneys general to better protect airline passengers.

Attorney General Stein has already been pushing for stronger protections for airline customers. Last year, he suggested a list of new rules that USDOT should implement to protect consumers, including requiring airlines to only sell tickets for flights that they have adequate staff for, prohibiting airlines from cancelling flights while selling travelers more expensive alternatives, and preventing airlines from placing inappropriate limits on the credits and vouchers they provide. He also recently joined a bipartisan group of 38 attorneys general urging Congress to pass legislation that would authorize state attorneys general to enforce both state and federal consumer protection laws governing the airline industry.

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