Plaintiffs Say United Should Face Covid Refund Policy Class Action Lawsuit
Canceled flights have been a hot topic during the Covid-19 pandemic. As travel restrictions went into place, and travel demand disappeared, airlines canceled thousands of flights. But when it came to refunding passengers, the response from airlines varies widely. Some did issue refunds as required, while others only issued credits and vouchers, or even worse, refused refunds altogether.
United Airlines is one of the companies that has been sued over refunds. Plaintiffs say United Airlines can’t use the refund policy in its purchase contracts to avoid a class action lawsuit demanding refunds for flights canceled by the coronavirus pandemic. Lead plaintiffs Jacob Rudolph, Mark Hansen and Jason Buffer say United canceled their flights and claim United is trying to get out of paying refunds for flights canceled between March and May 2020.
United recently filed a motion to dismiss their complaint. According to the plaintiffs, United is attempting to improperly use a force majeure term in their flight ticket contract to get out of paying for its cancellations. These clauses are commonly used in contracts to protect parties from unexpected events.
“United’s statements confirm it cancelled the majority of its flights for one simple reason: reduced passenger demand made it uneconomical to operate its regular schedule, which would have required United to operate undersold flights. Because United cancelled Plaintiffs’ flights due to economic considerations — not a force majeure event — United plainly breached its obligation under the Contract to refund Plaintiffs and the Class,” the plaintiffs’ opposition motion states as reported by TopClassActions.
Prior to June 2020, United’s refund policy allowed the airline to provide travel credits to passengers whose flights were canceled due to force majeure events. But, passengers whose flights were canceled due to a “scheduling change” or “irregular operation” were entitled to request refunds. That is also consistent with Department of Transportation clarifications.