US DOT Wants Airlines to Offer Refunds For Pandemic Cancellations
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in mass flight cancellations and suspensions. The demand for travel has also dropped, thus resulting in fewer flights. There are also worries that some additional travel restrictions may appear in the future. People may also become uneasy with the idea of air travel, even as many airlines continue to use extensive cleaning and sanitation operations to ensure all its flights are safe for people to take.
Various airlines have been issuing travel vouchers to people who have had to cancel their flight due to the coronavirus. These vouchers may work for flights that may be scheduled in the future. The timeframe for when people can redeem these vouchers will vary by airline. Delta has announced that people can use their vouchers for up to two years, for instance.
But the United States Department of Transportation is trying to crack down on this practice. The DOT announced that airlines should give the people who cancel their flight’s full refunds for their purchases. That is, they should not have to use vouchers if they do not plan on traveling anytime soon.
The US DOT says that it has received complaints from many people who are unhappy about not getting refunds. They keep saying that they are given travel vouchers for later use.
The issue has come as there are too many uncertainties surrounding the pandemic and what will happen. There are concerns that it might be difficult to travel to certain areas in the future. Others might not feel comfortable with the idea of traveling on a plane in the future.
Allowing For Compliance
The DOT Aviation Enforcement Office announced that it is letting the airlines choose to comply with the desire to give people refunds instead of vouchers. The office recognizes that the aviation industry has experienced a dramatic blow from the pandemic and that losses are expected to be substantial. With that in mind, the DOT will allow the airlines to comply with the work before trying to conduct any further action. Airlines that choose to provide refunds instead of vouchers will not experience further pressure.
In Other Countries
The United States is far from the only country that is experiencing issues surrounding refunds amid the pandemic. KLM, Lufthansa, and other European airlines have focused mainly on providing travel vouchers for people to utilize in the future. But there are some rules involved with the policies. The rules include how a person who does not use a voucher within a timeframe should have the right to get a full refund without having to schedule anything after a while.
Other airlines have been shut down altogether and have extensive backlogs of tickets to handle. Emirates has suspended operations throughout much of the world due to a temporary ban on air travel in the United Arab Emirates. The issue has led to concerns about whether Emirates will provide refunds or if it will stick with offering travel vouchers to people who have had their flights canceled.