Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity Refusing Customer Refunds
Refunds for canceled flights have been a hot issue for months now. Airlines have been canceling flights due to coronavirus restrictions, but passengers have not always been able to get their money back. Airlines and online travel agencies are hurting for cash, so they try to force customers to take vouchers and credit instead of cash refunds.
The latest issues are with Expedia and other websites they own, like Travelocity and Orbitz. All three have been accused of forcing customers who are rightfully owed refunds, to take a credit instead. One customer complained on Twitter that Travelocity refused to refund a $4K trip to Hawaii. Many more similar cases can be found all over social media recently.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has twice now clarified that airlines and online travel agencies are required to offer customers refunds for canceled flights.
What rights do passengers have if they purchased their airline ticket from an online travel agency?
Ticket agents are required to make “proper” refunds when service cannot be performed as contracted on a flight to, within, or from the United States. The Department interprets the requirement for ticket agents to provide “proper” refunds to include providing refunds in any instance when the following conditions are met: (i) an airline cancels or significantly changes a flight, (ii) an airline acknowledges that a consumer is entitled to a refund, and (iii) passenger funds are possessed by a ticket agent. In enforcing the requirement for ticket agents to make “proper” refunds, the Aviation Enforcement Office will focus on the totality of the circumstances.