October 01, 2004

Wyden Successfully Includes Key Airline Passenger Provision in Intelligence Reform Bill

Senators amendment would preserve law allowing passengers holding tickets on bankrupt airlines to trade in tickets on other air carriers

WASHINGTON, D.C. Airline passengers holding tickets on bankrupt airlines would continue to be able to trade in those tickets flights on other airlines, thanks to an amendment cosponsored by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and included today in the pending National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004. The amendment, offered by Wyden and U.S. Senator Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), would provide a one-year extension of the consumer protection provision, which was first enacted in the fall of 2001 and is due to expire next month.I am pleased that the Senate has included this common-sense measure that will continue to protect American airline passengers from an airlines decision to shut down, said Wyden. When an airline goes belly-up, thousands of consumers could lose their tickets, and this provision provides them some protection from what would otherwise be sunk costs through no fault of their own.Under the amendment, airline passengers holding a ticket on an airline that ceases operations due to financial insolvency would be able to use their tickets on another airline offering flights on the same routes on a space-available basis. The Department of Transportation has ruled that under this trade-in policy, the second airline may charge no more than a $25 administration fee to process the ticket change.Wyden has long been the Senates leading advocate for airline passenger rights. Legislation that he sponsored in previous Congresses included measures to require airlines to provide passengers at the airport with accurate and timely flight status information, and to tell consumers when a flight they are about to book is chronically delayed or canceled.The intelligence reform legislation to which the amendment was attached is likely to be voted on by the full Senate next week.