Airlines still owe consumers more than $20 billion in refunds for flights canceled in 2020


Washington (December 14, 2021) – With the Omicron variant spurring new travel guidance, U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called on the airline industry to be more transparent about its change and cancelation policies, and to refund passengers for flights canceled by airlines, as required by law.


“Consumers have a right to know upfront about airline change and cancelation policies,” wrote the senators in a letter to industry group Airlines for America. “[W]e feel strongly that your carriers have a moral obligation to offer flexibility to customers in the form of suspending all flight change and cancelation fees for every class of ticket, as well as offering refunds – or at the very minimum, flight credits that last indefinitely – until the end of the public health emergency. The airlines’ contracts of carriage include a host of force majeure exceptions for the carriers themselves, and it is only fair that a worldwide pandemic represents a similar exception for passengers.”


Markey and Blumenthal renewed their call for airlines to refund consumers for flights canceled last year, as experts estimate that airlines still owe passengers more than $20 billion in refunds, writing: “It is simply unacceptable for airlines to continue denying consumers the refunds that they are legally entitled. Consumers should not have to rely on federal enforcement to secure refunds owed to them under current laws and regulations. Swift action by your carriers to address outstanding refunds is long overdue.”


The full text of the letter can be found here.