FlyersRights: US DOT’s COVID-19 guidance ‘too little, too late’
FlyersRights.org strongly criticized the joint Departments of Transportation (DOT), Homeland Security (DHS) and Health & Human Services (HHS) “Runway to Recovery” plan for not requiring airlines and airports to follow the measures recommended by the report. Particularly, for months, the DOT has refused to mandate all passengers wear masks or appropriate face coverings to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. Instead, the DOT will continue to allow airlines to develop and enforce their own unique coronavirus responses.
Paul Hudson, President of FlyersRights.org noted, “The US Federal Government has abdicated its responsibility to help stop the spread of the coronavirus through domestic air travel. Regulation of air travel is solely a federal issue, but the DOT refuses to mandate rules on masks, social distancing, cleaning, and measures to discourage travelers from non-essential travel or travel when sick.”
“Prediction: Unless President Trump or Congress reverse the current no health safety regulation policy for air travel, confusion and fear will reign as US travelers are blackballed internationally, airlines go bankrupt, and thousands more are sickened.”
FlyersRights.org also contends that the airlines have the legal duty to issue refunds to passengers who cancel their flights if they have been diagnosed with Covid-19, display symptoms of Covid-19, or if a state stay-at-home order prohibits non-essential travel. Meanwhile, the airlines have tied up much of the DOT’s resources by not consistently providing refunds when the airlines cancel flights or impose a significant schedule change.
For months, the scientific consensus has recognized the need for widespread mask wearing and social distancing. FlyersRights.org called on the airlines to require masks for all passengers and flight attendants in April, as well as to improve social distancing and cleaning measures.