Photo Credit: Jue Huang
More Protections May Be Coming For Travelers In Need Of Flight Refunds
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed an update to a rule, which if implemented, would provide more protection for travelers in the event of flight delays and cancellations, as reported by Travel and Leisure. Currently, airlines are required to provide refunds whenever they significantly change or cancel a flight. Under the DOT’s new change, the aforementioned “significant” changes would have a concrete definition rather than being left completely open for interpretation.
The significant change would be a delay of over three hours for domestic flights and over six hours for international flights. An increase in connecting flights or changing the airport of arrival or departure would also constitute a significant change, as would an aircraft change that leads to a “significant downgrade in the air travel experience or amenities available onboard the flight.”
In a statement, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “When Americans buy an airline ticket, they should get to their destination safely, reliably, and affordably. This new proposed rule would protect the rights of travelers and help ensure they get the timely refunds they deserve from the airlines.”
In addition to the defined terms, airlines would have to offer vouchers or credits that do not expire in the event travelers are unable to locate fly due to a pandemic–namely, reasons such as border closures, travel bans, or passengers who have been advised against traveling due to health concerns.
Many passengers are currently unaware of their rights regarding cancellations and refunds.
During an appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Buttigieg said, “If they cancel your flight, you are entitled to a cash refund and we enforce that rule. When you ask them to give you a refund, they have to do it. But if they don’t, come to us. We have an entire office of Aviation Consumer Protection…but know your rights because we have your back.”
The Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (ACPAC) will discuss the topic in their upcoming virtual public meeting, which will be held on Aug. 22, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EDT. Requests to attend the meeting must be submitted here by Aug. 15.