Congress Passes FAA Bill Increasing Traffic Controllers, Safety Protocols, and More


Congress has passed a bipartisan bill to reauthorize Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs by overwhelming majorities in both the House and the Senate, leading to greater protections for travelers.

The bill, which passed by a 387-26 margin in the House on Wednesday and passed by an 88-4 margin in the Senate last week, will now go to President Joe Biden to sign, according to The Associated Press. The bill increased the number of air traffic controllers — which have been dealing with an alarming shortage — added more safety inspectors at aircraft factories, and implemented new rules regarding airline refunds and family seating policies. 

“This bill recognizes while our aviation system is safe, we have to continue raising the bar for safety,” Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., chairman of the House Transportation Committee, told the AP. 

The bill includes several key provisions to make traveling better for the flying public, according to The New York Times, including:

  • Prohibiting airlines from charging families with young children extra fees to sit together.
  • Codifying the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) recent rule requiring airlines to automatically issue refunds for canceled or significantly delayed flights when the traveler has not accepted alternative transportation or travel credits.
  • Requiring the DOT to create a dashboard comparing minimum seat sizes on U.S. carriers.
  • Expanding protections for travelers with disabilities by requiring airline personnel to be trained in handling motorized wheelchairs, allowing travelers to request seats that better accommodate their disabilities, and establishing a new program dedicated to accessibility upgrades at airports.

Many in the travel industry applauded the passage of the bill.

“Travelers had a clear demand for Congress to fix an aviation system challenged by years of federal underinvestment,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman said in a statement shared with Travel + Leisure. “This FAA renewal is a big step toward vastly improving the travel experience.”

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby similarly told T+L in a statement the bill “strengthens our nation’s air traffic control staffing and infrastructure needs and invests in programs to advance the aviation workforce of the future.”

And Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Eric Fanning told T+L the bill will “empower the FAA to modernize their processes for safety and efficiency.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *