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Approximately 2/3 of the world’s passenger airplanes have been grounded due to the relentless effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of Americans have been forced to deal with cancellation after cancellation, and not by their own choosing.

Many airlines are pushing to give consumers flight credits to use for future travel, however, during these times a lot of people just rather have their money sent back to them.

Earlier this month, federal officials put out an order for airlines to reimburse customers for canceled flights. Passengers have continuously complained to The US Department of Transportation about airlines providing travel credits instead of refunds, which led to this decision.

The Department of Transportation has released an enforcement notice stating, “that passengers should be refunded promptly when their scheduled flights are cancelled or significantly delayed.”



According to this notice, the government will be exercising “prosecutorial discretion,” and will give airlines time to contact customers, update policies and properly train staff.

“The Department is receiving an increasing number of complaints and inquiries from ticketed passengers, including many with non-refundable tickets, who describe having been denied refunds for flights that were cancelled or significantly delayed,” the notice read.

Airlines are required to send refunds to customers when they cancel or significantly delay flights. This also must be done when flights are restricted due to government orders. The rules however, do not apply when passengers decide not to fly for any reason.
Airlines canceled significant portions of their schedules as demand plummeted. Only about 1 in every 10 seats are filled on flights these days, with airlines flying at about half their normal schedules.
This has resulted with airlines owing an estimated $35 billion in refunds and credits according to the International Air Transport Association.
A number of passengers received credits towards future flights that ultimately can not be used. Many airline vouchers expire after a year. Delta Airlines announced it would accept coronavirus-related flight credits until the end of May 2022.
The US Department of Transportation says, “Although the COVID-19 public health emergency has had an unprecedented impact on air travel, the airlines’ obligation to refund passengers for cancelled or significantly delayed flights remains unchanged.”
Source: CNN
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