FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Fed up with flight woes and the airline industry? So are 38 attorneys general throughout the United States.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group joined together, including California Attorney General Rob Bonta, in a letter to press Congress to take action against the airline industry.  In it they say the Department of Transportation (DOT) simply is not doing its job to protect and advocate for consumers left scorned by canceled flights and poor customer service.

They are calling for legislation that would allow individual states to be able to address consumer complaints, and bypass the DOT completely.  They are proposing that state attorneys general be able to enforce both state and federal consumer protection laws regulating the airline industry, or the responsibility be transferred to a different agency, such as the U.S. Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission.  As it stands now, the industry is governed primarily by the DOT.

The letter goes on to claim that airlines accepted stimulus dollars while failing to provide customers with timely refunds when their flights were canceled.  They also say that consumer complaints are in the thousands since the start of the pandemic, with travelers expressing frustration over failures by airlines to provide credits to those who had flights canceled.

“It’s been a summer of nightmares for many Californians booking travel…” said Attorney General Bonta.  “Canceled flights. Long security lines. Unresponsive customer service. It’s flat-out unacceptable. While Secretary Buttigieg has put airlines on notice in recent months, I urge Congress to recognize the severity of this problem and pass legislation allowing state attorneys general to join in the enforcement of airline consumer protection laws.”

Complicating matters further for travelers, they say, is that with the airline industry consolidating and subsequent decreased competition limiting consumers’ ability to make alternative choices when airlines raise airfares, reduce capacity, or lower the quality of service.

The letter also stresses the need to repair the current airline industry operations as flying is critical to local, state, and national economies and essential to millions of Americans who travel for both business and pleasure.

In addition to California, attorneys general from Arizona, Colorado, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin endorsed sending the letter.