Airline travel expected to be chaotic in 2024, again – Consumer Protection Week 2024

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CLEVELAND — If you traveled by air last year, or talked with anyone who did, you know airplanes were packed, delays were common and trips were often stressful. Buckle up: 2024 is expected to be even busier. Experts at the International Air Transport Association predict a record 4.7 billion passengers will fly this year, surpassing the 4.5 billion in pre-pandemic 2019.

Spring break is around the corner and summer vacations will be here soon. As you gear up for travel plans this year, we can help. U.S. PIRG has intensively researched the problems with air travel and the record-breaking volume of complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation during the last four years. We helped passengers who couldn’t get refunds for canceled flights, didn’t know how to get reimbursed for lost luggage or weren’t sure what to expect if they were voluntarily or involuntarily bumped from a full flight.

We can try to help you enjoy smooth travels with tips to use before you book, at the airport and after you land. For example, we recommend that travelers put trackers in their luggage – even carry-on items that could get checked at the last minute – so you can find your luggage even if the airline can’t. Over the first nine months of 2023, the 10 largest airlines mishandled more than 2.2 million bags, more than during the same period the year before. And that’s only on direct flights. 

Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation is considering new rules to require airlines to reimburse travelers for hotels, meals and rebooking when the airline is responsible for a cancellation or significant delay that strands customers. Our experts can walk through what rights travelers have now, and how to best handle disruptions.

For other helpful advice, see our guide, “Airline travel tips you shouldn’t fly without,” at

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