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AG Letitia James: travelers endure 'too much confusion and frustration'

NYS Attorney General Letitia James urged the U.S. Department of Transportation and the FAA to take more action to help ease the burden of flying for travelers.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Lawmakers are taking action to help air travelers amid ongoing nationwide airline cancellations and delays.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday penned a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation urging the Federal Aviation Administration to "implement more stringent measures to keep airlines in line and remedy any harm to consumers."

In the letter, James highlights the number of complaints her office receives regarding disrupted travel and costs travelers spend out of pocket as a consequence of growing cancellations and delays. 

"Airlines knowingly advertising and booking flights they do not have the adequate staff to operate are flying in the face of the law," James said. "The skyrocketing number of flight cancelations and delays in airports across the country is unacceptable, and travelers have endured too much confusion and frustration.

"I urge the U.S. Department of Transportation to increase its oversight and regulation of airlines that are skirting the rules and causing disruptions for travelers."

Credit: Office of Letitia James

Travelers at Buffalo Niagara International Airport said they're pleased to hear some lawmakers are taking steps to ease the burden of flying. 

Longtime friends Sharon Brown and Joette Cappello are avid travelers who found out, upon arriving at the airport, that their Delta flight to Minneapolis was delayed and that they would miss their connecting flight to Seattle. 

"I'm driving here, and I didn't get an alert, and if I did, I was too busy driving to see it," Cappello says. "There are supposed to be smarter people running these airlines, and why can't they do a better job?"

Laury Hartman and Scott Filliponi are leaving Buffalo to head back home to Atlanta. While they haven't dealt with the burden of cancellations or delays this trip, they are well aware it's a nationwide problem. 

"People have places to go that they need to be, that they want to be, and they need to be able to get there as easily as they can," Hartman said. 

As for how New York's attorney general is approaching the problem? Filliponi told 2 On Your Side's Liz Lewin, "I think anything to make travel easier and more fluid is better."

So, just how frequently are cancellations happening?

Bloomberg gathered data from Cirium, a global aviation and data solutions company. They measured and compared 19 major international carriers to see which airlines had the most cancellations in the past three months, through the end of July. 

Virgin Airlines and Dutch carrier KLM (respectively) canceled 5.9 and 5.8 percent of flights during that time. 

High-traffic carriers American and United Airlines canceled 2.6 percent of flights, and Delta canceled 2.5 percent. 

While there may not be a short-term solution to this problem, one that has in large part been exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19 and the national shortage of commercial pilots, James' office recommends that the FAA do the following:

Credit: Office of Letitia James

 

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