In a big win for travelers, the US DOT has ordered six airlines to reimburse travelers $600 million due to cancellations and/or delays. Here is what this means.
Six Airlines Refunding $600 Million to Travelers
According to NBC News, this huge refund order came as a result of airlines failing to honor what is their ticket obligation in getting customers to their destinations in a timely manner. However, as the airlines were trying to ramp up operations this year as the world was on the move again after Covid-lockdowns and halts, these airlines also failed in that job – a lot.
As a result, many travelers found their travels disrupted with outright cancellations or huge delays. When such things happen for flights involving US travel, there are to be options made available to customers – such as different flights, vouchers, etc. If none of those are acceptable to the traveler, they are to receive their money back.
But, as we saw during Covid travel, many airlines around the world were playing fast and loose with such rules as they tried to retain cash. They would try and convince customers that they had no option for refunds or suggest that asking for a refund would require a very long delay and paperwork while a voucher could be instant.
The US Department of Transportation said this should not be normal behavior and that passengers should not have to wait months or longer for their refunds to be honored. Essentially, those airlines were getting interest-free loans on the back of customers while they tried to fix their operational problems.
The US has fined six airlines $7 million for these infractions and has ordered these six airlines to refund their customers, who were impacted in this manner, $600 million.
The airlines that fell under this ruling are: Frontier, TAP Portugal, Air India, Aeromexico, El Al, and Avianca. Only Frontier is a US-based airline and Frontier is actually the worst offender on this list. They are ordered to reimburse $222 million to their customers.
As a low-cost airline, Frontier has often tried to skate around having to provide a refund in cash with different creative voucher options. But, this time, they have to pay up.