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Bipartisan Partnership Between Secretary Buttigieg and State Attorneys General to Protect Airline Passengers

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has entered into a bipartisan Airline Passenger Protection Partnership with attorneys general from 18 states and U.S. territories (State AGs) – memorialized in a signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) – to protect aviation consumers from unfair or deceptive practices. DOT and the State AGs will work together to promote compliance with aviation consumer protection requirements and hold airlines and ticket agents accountable.

Authority

Both the Department and State AGs receive complaints about air travel service problems. While both DOT and State AGs have authority to address unfair or deceptive practices by ticket agents, only DOT has authority to prohibit unfair and deceptive practices by airlines.  

Investigation of Consumer Complaints 

Under the MOU, State AGs will investigate airline complaints they receive to make preliminary determinations as to whether airlines or ticket agents are potentially violating federal aviation consumer protection requirements. The MOU is expected to incentivize airlines to be responsive to inquiries from State AGs regarding complaints received against them. The MOU creates a fast-track action system for DOT to prioritize review of cases referred by State AGs when it involves the failure of an airline to respond to requests for information or when State AGs have made a preliminary determination that an airline has violated consumer protection requirements. Should DOT determine that the law has been violated, it will consult with the referring State AG before determining next steps.

Consumer Complaint Database

State AGs will have access to DOT’s new, modernized consumer complaint database to better track complaint patterns and understand alleged misconduct within their states. State AG employees must comply with security requirements to access and use this system, including agreeing to protect personally identifiable information contained in the system.

Training

DOT will provide technical assistance and training to State AG employees implementing the MOU on the Federal consumer protection requirements that apply to airlines and ticket agents.

State Attorneys General Partners

The following states and territories have signed the Memoranda of Understanding.

 

The following states are considering signing the Memoranda of Understanding.

Delaware

Massachusetts

Minnesota

Oregon

Tennessee

Vermont

Washington