Pete Buttigieg Pushes For Enhanced Military Travel Benefits

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg urged the top U.S. passenger airlines to improve travel advantages for families and active-duty military personnel on Thursday.

According to Buttigieg, the absence of uniform benefit specifics in carriers’ publicly available Customer Service Plans is what makes many service members uninformed of these perks. Additionally, he brought up that military personnel often have their travel plans changed or canceled owing to military orders and that the travel privileges offered by airlines do not adequately address their demands.

The agency plans to use a customer service dashboard in May to provide comparative information on the travel incentives offered by airlines to military members and their families.

If a military person or family member has to cancel a trip because of an army mandate, the USDOT aims to provide details on which airlines would give complete reimbursements. Furthermore, the free luggage allowances will be detailed.

The Transportation Department recently revealed a government dashboard that shows the pledges made by airlines to ensure that families aren’t charged for seating together. Substantial airlines came to a deal in September 2022 to compensate customers for meals and lodging in case of significant delays beyond their control—the USDOT’s introduction of a dashboard to compare consumer safeguards led to this conclusion.

Extra free baggage, priority boarding, and lower rates are just a few benefits that military members may expect from many airlines. About 800,000 people serve as reservists, and there are about 1.3 million active-duty military troops in the United States.

Major airlines, including United, Delta, Southwest, and American, have been silent or directed inquiries to the trade association Airlines for America, which has also been quiet.

In May 2023, President Joe Biden announced the USDOT’s ongoing rulemaking efforts. These rules will require airlines to compensate customers monetarily when their flights are significantly delayed or canceled due to the companies’ actions.

Airlines would have to compensate customers for long delays, but the US Department of Transportation has not yet issued an official proposal or given specifics on how much money will be needed. In 2022, however, carriers were asked if they would be ready to pay $100 at the very least if flight delays were three hours or more.