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Senators Ask DOT for Stricter Rules on Airline Refunds

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Senators Ask DOT for Stricter Rules on Airline Refunds

A group of Senators are asking the Department of Transportation (DOT) to strengthen rules regarding refunds for canceled flights. This was a been a hot topic during the early period of the pandemic when most airline were canceling most of their flights and refusing to fully refund customers.

Several airlines have already paid more than $600 million in refunds by now and have even been fined for delaying payments.

But the lawmakers want the DOT to go even further. They want airlines to not only refund the cost of a canceled flight, but also any ancillary costs such as food and lodging that are related to the cancellation or delays. The group includes Senators Maria Cantwell, Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, along with Edward J. Markey (Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.).

The lawmakers say airlines delayed or canceled three percent of all flights this year in what has been several months of chaos over the summer. Airlines continue to suffer because of fewer pilots and staff as well as an unexpected surge in air travel demand following the pandemic.

“This rulemaking is a critical response to the increase in flight cancellations and delays during the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in a record number of consumer complaints about the refund process,” the senators wrote. “While we commend the agency for taking this step, DOT can strengthen the proposed rule by protecting consumers from other costs that are beyond their control, including ticket service fees on canceled flights and secondary expenses resulting from a flight cancellation or delay.”

The three senators are asking the DOT to:

  • Require airlines to cover secondary costs such as hotel rooms, food and drink, and transportation to-and-from the airport when an airline, due to a problem within its control, cancels or significantly delays a flight.
  • Ensure that passengers are not forced to cover ticket agents’ service fees when an airline cancels a flight.
  • Require airlines to report to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics the value of the refunds and vouchers issued to consumers each month.

HT: Travel Pulse

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