EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Travelers have become increasingly frustrated with their flights being canceled or delayed.

Lori Kiley-Garcia struggled to find a new flight to California after Breeze Airways canceled her trip with little to no explanation.

“I felt like I had a stomach ache,” Kiley-Garcia said. “I was so nervous.”

Kiley-Garcia was told to go online and research when Breeze Airways would be offering flights to Los Angeles out of T.F. Green International Airport.

“When I did, there were no other flights and it said February 2023,” she recalled.

The situation was similar for Rob Almeida, who was forced to miss his sister’s wedding in Europe. In Almeida’s case, he couldn’t get a refund in time to book another flight.

“I know my sister is upset because she [didn’t] have my father there to walk her down the aisle,” he said. “She’s also upset because [I wasn’t] there either,” Almeida said.

These circumstances aren’t unique nor uncommon. It’s why the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is pushing airlines to change their business practices to better protect travelers.

The Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (ACPAC) discussed those proposed changes during a virtual meeting Monday.

The USDOT’s proposal aims to define specific situations as to when travelers can get their money back.

Those significant changes would include: 

  • Changes that affect the departure and/or arrival times by three hours or more for a domestic flight or six hours or more for an international flight;
  • Changes to the departure or arrival airport;
  • Changes that increase the number of connections in the itinerary; and
  • Changes to the type of aircraft flown if it causes a significant downgrade in the air travel experience or amenities available onboard the flight.

If another incident happens, such a government ban on travel, the proposal makes sure flyers will receive credits or vouchers, just like they did during the pandemic.

The proposal would also ensure that travelers whose flights are canceled or significantly altered receive refunds quickly and efficiently.

Airlines and ticket agents would be required to give refunds within seven days if the flight was booked with a credit card, and 20 days if it was purchased with a cash or check.

Committee member Mario Rodriguez said this is a pivotal time to make changes.

“I’d call it a transformative phase,” Rodriguez said. “I believe the work of this committee is more important today than it was pre-COVID.”

The committee plans to submit their recommendations later this year.