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Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal calls for airline passenger bill of rights after recent travel meltdown

Connecticut lawmaker calls for airline passenger bill of rights
Connecticut lawmaker calls for airline passenger bill of rights 02:25

STAMFORD, Conn. -- After weeks of travel headaches, some lawmakers want to give travelers a bill of rights when they fly.

Thousands of canceled flights left many people stranded, especially Southwest customers.

Darrell Mangran was supposed to be on a flight home from LaGuardia Airport at 5 p.m. Monday.

"It got delayed and then they canceled it. And now she's telling me we won't be home until tomorrow at 11, so I said, 'I'm from Georgia, where am I supposed to stay?'" he said.

He says after asking the airline's customer service rep for help, he likely will be sleeping on the terminal floor.

"So I'm saying, ma'am, well, are you gonna compensate us? Do you have anything, hotel or vouchers, food vouchers? And it's like, 'Oh no, we don't have that,'" Mangran said.

Stories like his have been all too common these past few weeks as thousands of flights were canceled daily over the holidays with Southwest Airlines being the biggest offender.

READ MORE: Southwest Airlines under scrutiny after leaving stunning amount of passengers stranded

"The kind of disaster that we saw with Southwest simply dramatizes an ongoing failure by the airlines to respect basic passenger rights," Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal is introducing legislation to establish an airline passenger bill of rights.

The bill, if passed, would essentially ensure airlines give refunds and compensation for extra costs caused by delayed or canceled flights and lost luggage.

"Rental cars, hotel, meals, no questions asked, money back," Blumenthal said.

Bill McGee is the senior fellow for aviation at the American Economic Liberties Project. He says Americans have fewer rights dealing with an airline than with virtually any other company.

"They have their own internal algorithms based on how much you paid for the ticket, where you bought the ticket, when you bought the ticket, how you bought it, and because of all that, these contracts, they're vague, they're unfair, they're one-sided," he said.

McGee says currently the four largest airlines control 84% of the market, an unprecedented level of consolidation for the industry.

"It not only effects fewer flights, fewer nonstop flights, less service, it also means ... much higher fares," McGee said.

Blumenthal plans to introduce the bill as early as Tuesday.

In a statement Monday night, Southwest said there are several high-priority efforts underway to do right by their customers, including processing refunds and reimbursing travelers for their expenses.

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