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AG Derek Schmidt: States need authority to hold airlines accountable for customer complaints

Release Date: Aug 31, 2022

TOPEKA – (August 31, 2022) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today asked congressional leaders to enact legislation that will give states greater authority to investigate customer complaints against airlines as the nation sees a dramatic rise in passenger dissatisfaction.

In a letter signed by Schmidt and 37 other state and territory attorneys general, Schmidt asked Congress to pass a law removing federal restrictions that give central jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute airline complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Schmidt and the other attorneys general argue that states have robust consumer protection units and, if the federal preemption were removed, could help ensure passengers are treated fairly by the airlines.

“The mistreatment of airline consumers is a bi-partisan issue — one that requires immediate action from federal lawmakers,” the attorneys general wrote. “Flying is essential to millions of Americans as they go about their personal and professional lives and is critical to our local, state, and national economies. Customers booking airline tickets should enjoy a reasonable expectation of being treated fairly, respectfully, and consistently under the law throughout all interactions during their experience with the airline industry. Consumer confidence in the air travel experience is paramount to a thriving economy.”

The letter urges Congress to pass legislation that would authorize state attorneys general to enforce both state and federal consumer protection laws governing the airline industry. It also encourages Congress to consider shifting the authority for federal investigations of airline patron complaints from the U.S. Department of Transportation to an agency more primarily focused on consumer protection, such as the U.S. Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission.

A copy of the letter sent to congressional leaders is available at https://bit.ly/3B2Iap2.

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