LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Congress is now considering new rules for airlines after severe air travel disruptions ruined the holidays for tens of thousands of Americans.

In fact, a group of senators wants to enshrine a passenger bill of rights into law.

With their daughter, Emily, in a Denver, Colorado hospital over the holidays, Christine Pastore and her husband booked a Southwest Airlines flight for Dec. 26 to be with Emily on her birthday.

At the airport, they learned their flight was canceled and it would be days before Southwest could find them another flight.

“We were devastated. We were planning this trip for quite a while and the most frustrating part is that it was blue skies. All the other airlines were flying and there were seats available and we just could not get there,” said Pastore.

The Pastore’s were among hundreds of thousands stranded during Southwest’s meltdown, resulting in nearly 17,000 canceled flights costing the company about $800 million. Now, several U.S. senators say airlines need to do more to protect customers.

Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal introduced an “airline passenger bill of rights” aimed at requiring airlines to fairly compensate flyers during airline-caused delays and cancelations.

The senators also want to limit fees for bags, and seating as well as for changes or cancelations.
This comes as the department of transportation is planning new regulations to prohibit charging for families to sit next to children.

“If passengers could receive $1,350 whenever their flight is delayed by 4 hours, I am guaranteeing you there would be a lot fewer delays. What we want to do is give airlines the powerful incentive to be on time more than they are right now,” said Blumenthal.

Airlines for America, the trade group representing most of the nation’s carriers says:

“It is in the interest of all U.S. Airlines to provide a positive flight experience for all passengers the proposed policies in this bill would drastically decrease competition, leading to a subsequent increase in airfare prices.”

The Pastore’s say they’re still waiting to hear if Southwest will reimburse roughly $900 in prepaid expenses from the trip they weren’t able to take.

Southwest acknowledged it is still processing some refunds. The airline has apologized to customers and says it is planning a billion-dollar investment in technology.