A quick 🧵on what power the @USDOT actually has to protect airline passengers from corporate greed and holiday travel fiascos. ⬇️
1) My @econliberties colleagues released model legislation in September aimed at repealing a thing called federal preemption in the airline industry. You can read about it here:
2) Federal preemption means that consumers and their state AGs, courts, and legislatures have almost no recourse when things like the @SouthwestAir meltdown happen. The only gov't enforcers with real power over airlines are DOT and @SecretaryPete. So what are those powers?
3) DOT has power to protect passengers from unfair or deceptive practices and unfair competition by airlines. DOT can use that power to make rules that govern passenger rights, basically telling airlines what they have to do when things go sideways (like we've seen this week).
4) So what are the rules? If your flight is cancelled or significantly delayed, you get a refund. That’s it.
5) DOT doesn’t make airlines pay for hotels or meals unless they promised it in your ticket's fine print. There aren’t any rules about seating kids with their parents (it’s “encouraged”). They can bump you without compensation if they switch to a smaller plane.
6) There are a few minor rules for mishandled baggage, but airlines mostly write those rules themselves. That's little consolation when your stranded in Tampa for a week and your bags with your meds made it to New York.
7) Worse still, DOT doesn’t enforce the few rules it has made. It trotted out big fines last month for unpaid refunds. Frontier was the only domestic carrier that was punished.
8) DOT has broad powers over the airlines, but it simply doesn’t use them. And the same laws say state AGs and consumers cannot take the law into their own hands. Your state’s consumer protection laws do not apply. So airlines simply don’t play by the rules.
9) Passengers are left in the lurch, but they don’t have to be. Mayor Pete needs to take control and federal preemption of the airline industry needs to be repealed immediately, so the disaster we’re seeing this week won’t happen again.

Recommended by
Recommendations from around the web and our community.

Important thread on what Buttigieg can do about the airlines and is NOT doing about the airlines.