U.S. Senators Propose Cash Refunds Act For Coronavirus Cancellations

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

The United States has introduced new legislation that would require airlines to offer full cash refunds for all cancelled tickets during the coronavirus pandemic, regardless of whether the airline cancelled an entire flight or the passenger cancelled their individual ticket. 

A statement on behalf of the senators involved says U.S. airlines have been providing vouchers, not cash, to travellers who proactively cancelled their tickets due to the health crisis. Even though airlines are required under federal law to offer cash when they cancel an entire flight, "most airlines only offer to rebook passengers or provide a voucher as the default option instead, forcing customers to jump hoops to actually get their money back."

The statement says the airline industry could be holding on to more than US$10 billion from American travellers.

The Cash Refunds for Coronavirus Cancellations Act of 2020 says major airlines and third-party ticket sellers must offer full cash refunds for all cancelled tickets

“Americans need cash in their pockets to pay for food, housing, and prescriptions, not temporary credits toward future travel,” said Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.). 

“In light of this pressing need, and an unprecedented multi-billion dollar bailout, it’s absolutely unconscionable that the airlines won’t give consumers their money back. Airlines already have a moral responsibility to give cash refunds for all cancelled tickets during the coronavirus pandemic. My new legislation will give them a legal responsibility, too."

Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) added: “Congress allocated billions of dollars to airlines to help them stay afloat during this pandemic, but the airlines continue to play games with their customers. Rebooking is impractical for many consumers, especially given the uncertain nature of the future course of the pandemic."

The Cash Refunds for Coronavirus Cancellations Act states that airlines and third-party ticket sellers can offer travel vouchers as an alternative to cash refunds, as long as that voucher is valid indefinitely and the offer includes clear and conspicuous notice of the flyer’s right to a cash refund.

Airlines can pay for cash refunds with any emergency money made available by Congress, except for the CARES Act grants designated for supporting worker payroll expenses and employee benefits.

If passed, the legislation would be retroactive to any flight on or after 1MAR, 2020, so passengers who previously received a travel voucher, but have not used it, can ask for a cash refund now.

The legislation also mandates that cash refunds be available until 180 days after the end of the nationwide COVID-19 emergency declarations, giving consumers "six extra months of flexibility and peace of mind so they don’t have to travel until they truly feel safe flying again," said a statement on behalf of the senators.

Markey will formally introduce the legislation Wednesday along with co-sponsors Sens. Murphy, Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal, and Kamala Harris.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.


Comments

Kathleen scallon - May 14, 2020 @ 00:32
No fees! Airline cash refund

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