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US proposes to increase refund protections for air travelers

The Department of Transportation is proposing to require airlines to offer passengers a refund if their flight schedule changes significantly or the airline makes significant changes to their itinerary. The proposed rule announced Wednesday would require airlines to issue refunds if the departure or arrival time changes by three hours or more for a domestic flight or at least six hours for an international flight. Refunds will also be due if the airline changes the passenger’s departure or arrival airport, adds stops to their itinerary or causes a “significant deterioration” in the travel experience by switching to a different type of plane. The rule will even apply to travelers who purchase tickets with non-refundable rate, which usually cost less and are favored by many leisure travelers. The proposal comes after the department was inundated with complaints from passengers whose flights were canceled or changed — or who were afraid to fly during the early months of the pandemic — and who were unable to get refunds. Airlin prefer to hand out travel vouchers instead of refunds. The department is proposing to require airlines and ticket agents to give unexpired vouchers to passengers who are told not to travel during a pandemic for health reasons or because borders are closed. faces a public comment period and possible opposition from airlines. Their trade group, Airlines for America, did not immediately comment. Currently, airlines are required to offer refunds to passengers whose flights are canceled or significantly changed, but it has never defined cancellation or significant change. Because of this, the airlines challenged the Department of Transportation’s authority to force them to pay refunds. “When Americans buy an airline ticket, they should get to their destination safely, reliably and affordably,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “This new proposed rule will protect travelers’ rights and ensure they receive the timely refunds they deserve from airlines.” .The department will take public comments on the proposal for 90 days. A group that advises the department and includes consumer advocates has scheduled an online meeting to discuss the rule on Aug. 22.

The Department of Transportation is proposing to require airlines to offer passengers a refund if their flight schedule changes significantly or the airline makes significant changes to their itinerary.

The proposed rule announced Wednesday would require airlines to issue refunds if the departure or arrival time changes by three hours or more for a domestic flight or at least six hours for an international flight.

Refunds will also be due if the airline changes the passenger’s departure or arrival airport, adds stops to their itinerary, or causes a “significant degradation” of the travel experience by switching to a different type of plane.

The rule will even apply to travelers who buy non-refundable tickets, which usually cost less and are favored by many leisure travelers.

The proposal comes after the department was inundated with complaints from passengers whose flights were canceled or changed – or were afraid to fly during the early months of the pandemic – and who were unable to get refunds.

Airlines prefer to hand out travel vouchers instead of refunds.

The department proposes requiring airlines and ticket agents to issue non-expiring vouchers for passengers told not to travel during a pandemic for health reasons or because borders are closed.

The proposal faces a public comment period and possible opposition from airlines. Their trade group, Airlines for America, did not immediately comment.

Currently, airlines are required to offer refunds to passengers whose flights are canceled or significantly altered, but it has never been defined as cancellation or major change. Because of this, the airlines challenged the Department of Transportation’s authority to force them to pay refunds.

“When Americans buy an airline ticket, they should get to their destination safely, reliably and affordably,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This new proposed rule will protect travelers’ rights and ensure they receive the timely refunds they deserve from airlines.”

Consumer complaints lodged with the department increased almost sevenfold in 2020 compared to the previous year, and 87% involved refunds.

The department will take public comments on the proposal for 90 days. A group that advises the department and includes consumer advocates has scheduled an online meeting to discuss the rule on Aug. 22.

US proposes to increase refund protections for air travelers Source link US proposes to increase refund protections for air travelers

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