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By Pete Muntean and Nicky Robertson | CNN

The US Department of Transportation has proposed changes to allow airline passengers to seek refunds under circumstances including major delays and Covid-19.

The department announced Wednesday proposed changes to federal agency rules that would allow passengers to seek a refund if an airline changes departure or arrival times for a domestic flight by three hours or more, changes the arrival or departure airport, changes or adds connections in a flight itinerary, or changes the type of plane being flown by the airline “if it causes a significant downgrade in the air travel experience or amenities available onboard the flight.

The proposed rules also would expand protections for consumers who are unable to fly for pandemic-related reasons and have nonrefundable tickets, allowing them to receive travel credits or vouchers that do not expire. These consumers could also be eligible for refunds from airlines that received significant government financial assistance.

The announcement comes as the Biden administration aims to crack down on airlines that have been struggling with thousands of cancellations and delays.

For years, Department of Transportation rules have only required airlines to provide passengers a refund if carriers “significantly change” a flight.

The department said Wednesday it has received a “flood” of complaints from passengers seeking refunds from airlines since the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic “because airlines canceled or significantly changed their flights or because the consumers decided not to fly for pandemic-related reasons such as health concerns.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on CNN’s “New Day” Thursday that this “rulemaking has been in the works for some time,” adding that it would “expand passenger rights.”

“We want to make that sure we’re being thoughtful. So right now, if you have input on this proposed rule, there is a window to make your voice heard at the Department of Transportation website. And, of course, we’re continuing to assess other measures that we can take to improve the passenger experience,” he told CNN’s John Avlon.

The department will also hold a virtual public hearing on the rule for August 22.

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The announcement follows a private meeting that Buttigieg held with airline CEOs in June, during which he told them to fix summer flight schedules that have been crumbling under airline staffing shortages along with bad weather and air traffic control delays. Data from FlightAware shows airlines have canceled roughly 40,000 flights in the US since Memorial Day.

The cancellations and delays led US Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Alex Padilla of California to demand the Transportation Department “aggressively” use its authority to hold airlines accountable and protect consumers.

Last month in a letter, the lawmakers called on the department to have airlines pay fines and compensate passengers for overbooking flights.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, also urged the department on Wednesday to “increase its oversight and regulation of airlines that are skirting the rules and causing disruptions for travelers,” including by requiring airlines to provide full or partial refunds when flights are canceled or rescheduled and to sell only as many flights for which they have adequate staffing.

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Patriots WR in Hot Water After Disastrous Day in Practice

Getty Kendrick Bourne

What’s going on with Kendrick Bourne?

That’s The usually jovial and energetic New England Patriots wide receiver who had a career season in 2021 and was expected to play an even bigger role for the team in 2022.

Unfortunately, he’s seemingly struggling on the practice field and making some decisions that have led to an ejection from a training camp session and a demotion on Wednesday.

Kendrick Bourne Gets Ejected From Practice on Tuesday

The Patriots and the Panthers had a spicy couple of days of joint practices this week. The two teams brawled multiple times, with one fracas spilling into the crowd. Bourne was involved in one of the smaller skirmishes before the biggest brawl on Tuesday.

His involvement in that dust-up led to him getting ejected along with fellow wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson. The two are seen here walking off the field together after they were tossed.

Babz of the Boston Sports Hour posted the video and his own commentary:

Both Kristian Wilkerson & Kendrick Bourne kicked out of #Patriots joint practice today. KB threw a few punches. I love the dog in him but we know Belichick aint happy. Not good for Wilkerson who is trying to make the team right now.

— Babz (@BabzOnTheMic) August 16, 2022

To make matters worse for Bourne, before he was involved in the scrap, he was asked to leave the field by an official who was working the joint practice for an unknown reason. The move angered Bill Belichick, who reprimanded Bourne for the delay.

It appeared something was off with Bourne and may have impacted his performance and preparedness.

Kendrick Bourne is Relegated to Working With Reserves on Wednesday

On Wednesday, Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels believed Belichick was sending Bourne a message. The receiver was allowed to return to practice, but he was relegated to working with the reserves rather than the first unit.

Kendrick Bourne is working with the backup offense today. He had a rough practice yesterday before being ejected. Feels like there’s a message being sent.

— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) August 17, 2022

As Daniels indicated, this doesn’t seem like a coincidence. Could Bourne be a little too comfortable after a 2021 season that saw him set career highs in receiving yards and receptions?

Could he be frustrated with the offense’s well-documented struggles? Perhaps the answer is a little bit of both. In any case, the message seemed clear from Belichick: get it together, or we will play someone in your spot who is more with the program.

Patriots WR Room Takes a Hit

Wilkerson, who had been a main focal point of the drama between the Patriots and Panthers this week, went down with a head injury after a hit from Carolina’s Kenny Robinson. Despite the Patriots’ WR being injured, Robinson stood over Wilkerson in a taunting posture, much to the chagrin of his head coach Matt Rhule and several members of the Patriots roster.

Many, including Rhule, admitted this behavior played a role in the brawl escalating.

To add insult to injury, Wilkerson suffered a concussion due to the hit, per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe. We don’t know how long Wilkerson will be out, but it is a blow to the Patriots’ preseason process.

Wilkerson had a solid chance of making the 53-man roster after leading the team in receptions and yards against the New York Giants in the preseason opener. New England will now have DeVante Parker, Jakobi Meyers, Bourne, and rookie Tyquan Thornton seeing the most action receiver with Tre Nixon and Nelson Agholor slotting in.

Agholor stands to gain the most from Wilkerson’s absence. Wilkerson had a chance to make Agholor expendable after a tough 2021 for the latter. Now with Wilkerson shelved healing the head injury, Agholor seems like much more of a lock to make the team.

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