A bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that includes significant new protections for air travelers was overwhelmingly approved by the U.S. House of Representatives this week.
The Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act, which passed on a vote of 351-69, now heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration; the measure will have to be reconciled with the Senate’s own version of the bill before heading to the desk of President Joe Biden for approval.
Included in the bill are new rules expanding the obligation of airlines to issues refunds and reimbursement to stranded passengers, improved protection for travelers with disabilities, $4 billion in annual funding authorizations for airport improvements, aviation safety improvements, and more funding for hiring air traffic controllers.
The bill also included several provisions elevating the voice of travel advisors as vital travel distribution stakeholders and consumer advocates.
“Today, the House of Representatives recognized what consumers have long known—travel advisors serve as a crucial voice for the traveling public and, as sellers of nearly half of all air tickets, an indispensable contributor to our nation’s economy,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA President & CEO, upon passage of the bill. “Consumer research shows that not only are more people traveling more often, but more are also using travel advisors to make the most of their trips. ASTA members took that message to Capitol Hill during ASTA’s Legislative Day in June, and this legislation clearly shows that it resonated with lawmakers.
“While comprehensive in scope, the bill recognizes the invaluable role travel advisors play in the larger travel and tourism ecosystem while serving as a key voice for consumers. I applaud the bipartisan hard work of Chairman Sam Graves, Ranking Member Larsen, the Transportation Committee and the full House in approving this bill. We urge the Senate to quickly follow suit and get this bill over the finish line before the September 30 deadline,” Kerby concluded.
The measure was sponsored by Rep Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who said the measure would ensure that the U.S. remained the world leader in civil aviation.
“This good faith process yielded a bipartisan bill that will create a safer, cleaner, greener and more accessible U.S. aviation system,” said Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), a bill cosponsor and senior Democrat on the House Transportation Committee. “It will maintain our gold standard in safety and innovation, make a more sustainable and resilient aviation sector a reality and improve accessibility and consumer protections for all passengers.”