Days after the Biden administration announced a rule mandating flight cancelation automatic refunds, four lawmakers overseeing aviation policy in Congress began pushing legislation to reverse it. All of them take substantial airline industry donations.

by Katya Schwenk and Freddy Brewster, Jacobin

The Biden administration last week announced a new rule promising that when airlines cancel or significantly delay flights, passengers will automatically be given their money back without having to “navigate a patchwork of cumbersome processes to request and receive a refund, searching through airline websites to figure out how make the request, filling out extra ‘digital paperwork,’ or at times waiting for hours on the phone.”

But just days after that announcement generated celebratory headlines, four congressional lawmakers overseeing aviation policy began advancing legislation that includes a provision potentially reimposing those cumbersome processes on passengers, according to the bill text reviewed by us.

cars arrive at the airport departures area

The lawmakers are four of the six largest congressional recipients of campaign cash from the airline industry in the current election cycle, according to data from the government transparency group OpenSecrets.

On Monday, Senator Maria Cantwell and Representative Rick Larsen, both Washington Democrats; Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican; and Representative Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican, unveiled a bipartisan version of the must-pass legislation outlining federal aviation policy. Included in the final bill, which must still pass both chambers of Congress, is a line that creates a right to a refund for airline passengers with a nonrefundable ticket, but requires refunds only “upon written or electronic request of the passenger” — an explicit rejection of the Biden administration’s rule.

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