NCL applauds Congress’s passage of aviation consumer protection improvements

May 16, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin,, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through 2028, sending it to the president. The legislation includes a number of wins for the millions of consumers who travel by air every year: airline vouchers cannot expire in less than five years, caregivers can sit with their minor children without paying an extra fee, and passengers will automatically receive a refund if their flight is cancelled.

The measure also strengthens the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) ability to hold air carriers accountable when they break the law by tripling the maximum civil penalty the Department may impose and creating an assistant secretary position for aviation consumer protection.

“The National Consumers League is grateful to the negotiators of this bill for working to improve the flying experience,” said NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud John Breyault. “Without support from Senator Cantwell, Senator Cruz, Representative Graves, Representative Larsen, and their diligent staff, these important new consumer protections would not have made it to President Biden’s desk.

“We look forward to the president signing the bill into law and a robust enforcement regime from DOT. Particularly, we expect the FAA to act on its mandate from Congress to establish minimum seat sizes on airplanes—a directive Congress has given the agency twice now.”

Unfortunately, Congress missed a significant opportunity to enact structural change in how airlines are regulated. The airline industry still enjoys extraordinary privileges and remains protected from Federal Trade Commission and state government oversight. A tax break for add-on fees remains in place, encouraging air carriers to generate revenue from added charges instead of the base fare. And a provision that would have established bare-bones safeguards around the devaluation of frequent flyer rewards was stripped from the bill.

While there is still work to be done, the flying public undoubtedly secured important wins in this reauthorization. NCL is appreciative of the allies to consumers who championed our priorities on the Hill and we will continue to advocate for passengers as the legislation is implemented in the coming years.

Further reading:

  • Consumer advocates support federal review of air industry’s data collection practices
  • Full list of consumer and public interest advocates’ priorities for the FAA reauthorization
  • Consumer groups call for a moratorium on smaller airplane seats pending FAA safety review


About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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