Lawmakers urge immediate suspension of cancellation and change fees across entire airline industry


Washington (March 20, 2020) - Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today blasted the Department of Transportation (DOT) for its refusal to protect travelers from unfair cancellation and change fees during the coronavirus pandemic. The flying public is increasingly anxious about using existing or buying new airline tickets because of the rapidly spreading virus. Although most domestic airlines have temporarily waived change and cancellation fees to some extent because of the coronavirus, there are gaps in the policies that will leave many individuals with no choice but to either accept the risk of flying or pay excessive fees. Moreover, most airlines are also only offering flight credits instead of cash refunds for cancellations, which is particularly concerning at a time when many Americans are in direct need of cash.


“The urgent need for DOT to act became even clearer after the Trump administration unexpectedly implemented a travel ban from areas in Europe affected by the coronavirus, which left many flyers scrambling to change their plans,” said the lawmakers in their letter to Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “We once again urge you to act without delay to ensure that no travelers are exposed to a financial penalty for trying to protect themselves or their families from the coronavirus.”


A copy of the letter can be found HERE.


Senators Markey and Warren originally wrote to the DOT on March 4, requesting industry-wide relief from change and cancellation fees during the coronavirus outbreak. In its reply, the DOT declined to protect the flying public from these unfair fees, citing alleged prohibitions on regulating flight prices. However, as the Senators detail in their letter, the DOT has the authority, supported by legal precedent, to regulate ticket fees, including suspending change and cancellation fees.