National Consumers League calls on Congress, DOT to investigate flight cancellation crisis

August 6, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay,, (412) 945-3242

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) is today calling on Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation to take action to address the dramatic increase in flight cancellations that American consumers have been forced to endure this summer. In just the last 48 hours, Spirit Airlines canceled more than 400 flights, nearly 60 percent of its schedule, and American Airlines canceled nearly 350 flights. This follows on the heels of delays for nearly 10,000 flights and hundreds of additional cancellations in June.

NCL is urging Congress and the DOT to address this unacceptable situation and hold the airlines accountable for skirting around the requirements of agreements to accept more than $50 billion in tax-payer funded bailouts in 2020.

The following statement is attributable to NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud John Breyault:

“The situation in America’s airports has reached a crisis point. The airlines gladly accepted tens of billions of dollars in bailout money last year in order to save jobs. Nonetheless, they are now blaming thousands of cancellations and delays on not having enough workers.

“Who do they think they are kidding? The airlines are playing fast and loose with consumers, and it must stop. This scandal is stranding millions of Americans at the height of the summer travel season. Secretary Buttigieg and leaders in Congress should immediately take action to hold the airlines accountable for their failure to maintain adequate staffing. Airlines that cannot accommodate their passengers should immediately issue refunds with no questions asked. Interline agreements should be required so that passengers can be easily booked onto alternate airlines to complete their journeys. Congress should immediately open an investigation into whether the airlines’ use of early retirement packages and unpaid furloughs, combined with the threat of layoffs, constituted an illegal evasion of the bailout legislation’s staffing requirements.”

About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit