the wake of airlines’ refusal to voluntarily do right by the flying public,
lawmakers call on DOT to use its consumer protection authority to preserve
travelers’ hard-earned dollars
Washington (June 30, 2021) – Senator Edward J.
Markey (D-Mass.), Senator Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Representative Steve Cohen
(TN-09), and Representative Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04) today sent a letter
to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) urging the agency to protect air
travelers from an unfair business practice that has pervaded aviation during
the coronavirus pandemic – the denial of cash refunds for canceled flights and
the issuance of flight credits that will soon expire. This letter follows another
sent to all of the major domestic airlines in May of this
year, requesting that airlines voluntarily work with lawmakers to make
pandemic-related travel credits valid indefinitely by default. Regrettably, the failure
of most airlines to provide refunds or promise that these
credits will never expire has made it clear that strong action by the DOT is
During the ongoing emergency, many Americans
have proactively canceled their flights at the urging of health officials –
only to find themselves ineligible for refunds that would have been available
had they waited for airlines to cancel their flights for them. In the place of
refunds, airlines provided passengers with temporary travel credits that have
already expired or will expire before many Americans feel safe traveling again.
Additionally, many airlines have imposed conditions on travel credits that
consumers have struggled to navigate, leaving many Americans unable to redeem
their travel credits or only able to redeem them at a loss, even as the
industry sits on more than $10 billion in unused travel credits.
“The coronavirus pandemic has created
unprecedented challenges for air travelers, and consumers deserve cash refunds
for tickets canceled during the pandemic,” write the lawmakers in their
letter to DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “At a minimum, it is imperative
that all flight credits issued during the pandemic are made valid indefinitely
by default and frequent flier miles do not expire as a result of travelers
having chosen not to fly during the pandemic. We urge you to act swiftly to
address these concerns, and we stand ready to work with you to protect air
travelers. There should be no expiration date for consumer protection.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE
During the prior Congress, Senators Markey and Blumenthal led their colleagues in demanding airlines offer cash refunds instead of temporary flight credits.
Senators Markey and Blumenthal and Representative Cohen also filed legislation that would require the return of travelers’ money.
efforts build on these lawmakers’ prior work and continue their fight to
preserve consumers’ hard-earned dollars.