expiration dates and complex airline policies may be encouraging travelers to
fly before they feel safe boarding a plane
Washington (May 10, 2021) – Senators Edward J. Markey
(D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science,
and Transportation Committee, today sent a letter to each of the major domestic
airlines, urging every company to make all pandemic-related flight credits
valid indefinitely by default. The coronavirus pandemic has created
unprecedented challenges for air travelers whose plans have been disrupted by
health concerns, government-mandated bans on travel, and closed borders. Although
many consumers have had to cancel flights due to no fault of their own, many
airlines have denied them the cash refunds they deserve, and are instead
issuing temporary flight credits that are now beginning to expire despite the
ongoing health emergency.
Senators Markey and Blumenthal previously led their
colleagues in demanding
airlines offer cash refunds instead
of temporary flight credits, as well as filing legislation
that would require the return of travelers’
money. Today’s letter follows these prior efforts after new reports have
revealed that travelers are struggling to navigate each airline’s complex
policies, which may cause countless consumers to be unable to redeem their
flight credits or redeem them at a loss.
“We must first reiterate our belief that your airline
should offer a cash refund for all tickets on flights canceled during the
coronavirus pandemic, whether canceled by the airline or traveler,” write the senators. “Americans need cash in their
pockets to pay for food, housing, and prescriptions during this emergency. It
is unconscionable that airlines are largely refusing to return customers’ money
even as the industry sits on more than $10 billion in unused travel credits.
However, even as we continue to push for these cash refunds, it is imperative
that, at a minimum, your company does not subject pandemic-related flight credits
to an expiration date.”
Letters were sent to the following companies: Alaska
Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines,
Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and
Copies of the letter to each
airline can be found HERE.
The lawmakers ask the airlines to respond to questions that
- Will your airline commit to providing a cash refund for
all tickets that are canceled during the coronavirus pandemic, regardless
of whether the airline or traveler cancels the flight?
- What types of flight credits does your airline offer
and what are the rules and restrictions governing each type of credit?
- For each type of credit, what is the total value your
airline has issued during the coronavirus pandemic?
- Will your airline commit to making all flight
credits—including those that have already been issued and those that have
expired during the pandemic—valid indefinitely by default?
- Will your airline commit to making all frequent flier
miles that were unable to be redeemed during the pandemic valid
indefinitely by default?
- Will your airline commit to making sure your flight
credit policy is easy to understand and to making sure flight credits are
easy to redeem?
- Will your airline’s customers always be able to utilize
the full value of their pandemic-related flight credits, no matter their
replacement travel plans or other circumstances?