US Reporter

Transportation Department will Sanction Companies That Refuse to Give Customer Refunds for Canceled Flights

The United States Department of Transportation gave notice to airlines refusing to refund passengers for canceled flights.

The Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, stated on Monday that the government reviewed six airlines for prospective fines totaling $7.5 million for failing to repay consumers due to canceled flights. According to the DOT, airlines should set up more than $600 million for potential consumer reimbursements. In the case of a flight cancellation, the firms will utilize this.

“When a flight gets canceled, passengers seeking refunds should be paid back promptly. Whenever that doesn’t happen, we will act to hold airlines accountable on behalf of American travelers and get passengers their money back. Flight cancellation is frustrating enough, and you shouldn’t also have to haggle or wait months to get your refund,” the Transportation secretary said.

Instead of a refund, the transportation agency noted that corporations prefer to give credits for future travel. However, the policy mandates them to repay clients. According to the DOT, many airlines will only issue a refund if they wish to keep their money. As a result, numerous clients complain to authorities.

Bill McGee, an aviation advocate with the American Economic Liberties Project, stated that complaints increased 57 times between 2019 and 2020. In 2019, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics received 1,500 refund complaints. However, it jumped to 89,000 the next year.

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The transportation department promises to help

While the airline sector has recovered somewhat from the epidemic, many flights have been canceled. Many people are concerned about this. In the face of canceled flights due to limitations or changes in plans, airlines frequently offer vouchers and credit for future travel. However, they expire before the buyer can locate another free time to travel to a place.

“But still, flights do get canceled. And when that happens, DOT will be here to make sure that a refund is available and that it’s processed as promptly as possible, that we’re going to have people’s backs when they experience a disruption,” Buttigieg added.

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May be a little late

The endeavor, according to McGee, is a positive start in the right direction. Thousands of customers, however, may have been complaining about the issue for several years. Nonetheless, they go unnoticed. Furthermore, McGee stated that numerous airlines are guilty of the conduct but have yet to be penalized by authorities. Many customers, for example, filed complaints against the world’s three major airlines: United, Delta, and American.

“Why is it that none of these other airlines have been fined? And why is it taking so long? Why is it taking (almost) three years to investigate this, particularly since all the data is public? Airlines that brazenly skirt the rules deserve to be fined, but this latest round of enforcement from the USDOT comes almost three years too late and leaves out the most egregious US offenders,” McGee said.

Airlines impacted by the action on Monday include:

  • Air India – $121.5 million in required refunds paid and a $1.4 million penalty
  • TAP Air Portugal – $126.5 million in required refunds paid and a $1.1 million penalty
  • Aeromexico – $13.6 million in required refunds paid and a $900,000 penalty
  • El Al – $61.9 million in required refunds paid and a $900,000 penalty
  • Avianca – $76.8 million in required refunds paid and a $750,000 penalty

For travelers, you can file your complaints on the DOT website.

Photo Credit: The New York Times

Source: NPR

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