Airlines Must Refund Cancelled Flight Tickets In Full, Says U.S. Department of Transportation

By Claire Leaden

Full refunds, not vouchers!

As people rush to cancel or rebook their flights this month and in the coming months due to COVID-19, many have run into the issue of airlines not being very…amenable…to refunding their tickets. So much so, that the U.S. Department of Transportation has stepped in and made an official statement about what is legally allowed.

“U.S. and foreign airlines remain obligated to provide a prompt refund to passengers for flights to, within, or from the United States when the carrier cancels the passenger’s scheduled flight or makes a significant schedule change and the passenger chooses not to accept the alternative offered by the carrier,” they said in a statement published to their website.

They emphasized that airplanes are still obligated to provide refunds even when “flight disruptions are outside of the carrier’s control (e.g., a result of government restrictions).”

The department said they have received a significant amount of complaints stating that an airline has “refused” to refund a person’s tickets and instead has offered “vouchers or credits for future travel” instead.

Though they’re giving the airlines a chance to adhere to the newly clarified rules, the Aviation Enforcement Office “will monitor airlines’ refund policies and practices and take enforcement action as necessary.”

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