Travelers should not be exposed to a financial penalty for trying to protect themselves or their families
Washington (March 4, 2020) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today sent a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT), urging the agency to require all airlines suspend their ticket change and cancellation fees in light of the spreading coronavirus. The flying public is increasingly nervous about using existing or buying new airline tickets because of the uncertainty around where the disease will break out next. Although some domestic airlines have temporarily waived select fees because of the coronavirus, the inconsistency between each company’s policies will leave many individuals with no choice but to either fly and accept the risk or pay excessive fees.
“The DOT is uniquely empowered to act upon claims of anti-consumer conduct in the transportation industry, and should not rely on voluntary business commitments that provide only patchwork relief,” write the Senators in their letter to Secretary Elaine L Chao. “Allowing any airline to charge exorbitant fees for ticket changes or cancellations during the coronavirus outbreak is beyond unfair. That’s why the DOT must act without delay.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
The coronavirus has created much anxiety and uncertainty around airline travel and has already led many companies and individuals to change their travel plans. However, these fliers often face change or cancel fees to the tune of $200 for domestic flights and $500 for international flights. While some domestic airlines have waived selected fees temporarily, each airlines’ policies differ on whether both new and existing tickets are protected, how long fees are waived for, and what destinations are covered. The Senators’ letter calls on the DOT to step in on behalf of all travelers and to stop airlines from charging these unfair fees for the duration of this public health emergency.
Senator Markey has long worked to end the anti-consumer business practice of ticket change and cancellation fees. He introduced the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act to prohibit airlines from charging fees that are not reasonable and proportional to the costs of the services actually provided.