Key Consumer Protections Pass as Part of Cantwell FAA Reauthorization Bill

Legislation expands ability of airports to train new bomb-sniffing dogs to reduce passenger wait times, improve security

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate aviation subcommittee, to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for five years, sending a number of important wins for consumers to President Trump’s desk.

As security wait times at busy airports around the country increase, the legislation will help get more bomb-sniffing canines into airports to reduce TSA checkpoint lines and enhance security. With the changes, airports will be able to purchase and train these canines through accredited third-party security programs. Once certified by the TSA, these dogs can be used to screen passengers, increasing security while reducing wait times.

Over the past few years, Cantwell has worked with Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) to get the airport more bomb-sniffing dogs, which help reduce security wait times by nearly half while improving passenger safety.

“In the Northwest, we’ve seen that canines can do unbelievable things to help us speed up the passenger screening process,” Cantwell continued. “We’re so happy this legislation helps us train more canines.”

The bill also contains a number of important new protections for airplane passengers to address common complaints and concerns. The pro-consumer provisions include:

  • Refunds of fees – Requires airlines to promptly refund fees to travelers for services purchased but not provided.
  • Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights – Establishes a bill of rights for passengers with disabilities to ensure everyone has equal access to travel.
  • Involuntary bumping reforms – Prohibits airlines from involuntarily removing passengers who have already boarded, except for safety, security, and health reasons.
  • Seat and leg room standards – Directs the FAA to set standards for minimum seat size and leg room.

“We’re trying to improve the flying experience,” Senator Cantwell said. “More people are flying than ever, and airplanes and airports are becoming more cramped and chaotic. This bill raises the bar to make sure that the traveling public is treated with dignity and respect.”

In addition to Senator Cantwell, the FAA reauthorization bill is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators John Thune (R-SD), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee; Bill Nelson (D-FL), the top Democrat on the Committee; and Roy Blunt (R-MO), the Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, & Security.

More information about the legislation is available HERE.